Anonymous Review Replies!

oooh dear, here we go. Has it really been more than a year? Should I say...Long time no see? Anyway, very sorry for the eternal wait, but life and all, you know the deal. Here you go!

XxShadowxX: Don't remind me, it's been like almost two years. So sorry...anyway, IF you're still reading, hope you enjoy the new chapter! :p

Kalex Chwell: Thank you! Reviews always appreciated, especially if they're long ones! Glad you enjoy both the friendship and slash version :)

nitro61298: Thanks! Not soon, but we do. XD

Katz4: Well, um, here you go. Hoping none of our readers has died in the mean time.^^° And no worries, they're about to get out of the Arctic this time!

JadeNoRyuu: Well, the Emerald seemed to like it if BOTH Sonic and Shadow touched it. Why that is...well, I guess we'll find out! ;p

DEV: Aber wenn er NICHT den halben Ozean hätte schlucken müssen, wäre es ja zu leicht gewesen! XD Aber ja, freut mich, dass es dir (vor zwei Jahren, ahahah...) gefallen hat! :p Wir updaten zwar laaaangsam, aber ich hoffe das neue Kapitel enttäuscht nicht, und klärt vielleicht sogar die eine oder andere Sache auf! NEIN! XD


Sonic and Shadow have this tiny transformation problem, the planet is threatening to fall apart again, they just retrieved an Emerald from the Antarctic sea and Knuckles also just radioed them because he saw a prophecy. Knuckles is not happy about this prophecy.

Which brings us to...

Chapter Eleven: A Race Against Time

Sonic very carefully detached the communicator from his ear, before Knuckles' volume could possibly mean he would be deaf on that side.

"Dude. Tone it down. What's that you're yelling about?"

"A GOD, Sonic. I asked the Master Emerald about what was happening with the eclipse three days ago and the Chaos Emerald I have abruptly going grey, and it sent me a vision. About you being the avatar of Light Gaia, the light side of the life energy of the planet!"

"Oh." Sonic scratched his ear. "Yeah, I guess I am. I just...didn't think it was that important."

"Not important?!"

Sonic winced. "Well...not really?" he tried, also shooting a slightly helpless glance at Shadow. "Knuckles, I'm the world saviour from the echidna prophecies, the legendary hedgehog from the Arabian nights, the real ultimate lifeform, and, apparently, also King Arthur. I also came back from the dead. I didn't think another god title mattered very much."

There was silence on the other end of the line. Sonic wasn't quite sure whether Knuckles had had a spontaneous aneurysm or simply hung up.

"...fine." The voice of the echidna crackled through the static again, sounding like the guardian of Angel Island had taken the time silently count to ten or possibly do some breathing excercises. "So you've known about that since the planet broke apart a year ago, I take it?"

"Yup." Sonic looked at his wrist adorned with the turquoise bauble he'd received at the end of this adventure. "I think Chip kinda made me his stand-in as Light Gaia avatar on Mobius when he left and gave me his neckband-thing. We're not sure where Shadow's came from, though, he's got the same thing in orange." Green eyes briefly flitted over to the amber pearl resting on the white chest fur of the black hedgehog. "Does that mean he's an 'avatar', too?"

"I...think so, yeah," Knuckles's voice crackled out of the speaker. Shadow, who had stalked closer during their conversation to also listen in properly, sharply raised his gaze at that bit of information, locking eyes with Sonic.

"What does that mean?" he asked.

"Shad- … -that you?" Knuckles' words were briefly drowned out in a rush of static before the connection stabilized again. Shadow leaned somewhat closer to the speaker between Sonic's claws.

"Yes, it's me. We've retrieved the Emerald from the Antarctic. Did I understand that right that you had another one?"

"I do," Knuckles replied. "It's greyed out like the ones Tails told me you collected, though."

"We found a way to revive them," Shadow's fingers closed more firmly around the once more glowing cyan gem stone they had retrieved from the Antarctic sea's depths. "What does it mean if me and Sonic are indeed...gods, or avatars?"

"Mostly it seemed like your destiny was to battle one another." Knuckles' voice sounded grim as he continued. "And I saw the sun being consumed by darkness."

There was a moment of silence after that statement. Sonic seemed to swallow.

"...battle?" he asked, the first word he appeared to have managed. „But me and Shadow have been working toge-"

"Let's continue this at Tails' workshop," Knuckles interrupted him. "Kid said he's already remote-controlling the Tornado to pick you up and fly you home. Plane should be there in an hour and have you back in another two. With any luck it'll be before the sun rises here, so Shadow's wings won't bust the cockpit. See you then."

There was another crack from the speaker and then silence reined once more, leaving wolf and artificial hedgehog standing in the snow alone. Sonic's large hand closed around the speaker more forcefully than it had to.

"...right." he said, though the enthusiasm from before the call seemed to have dimmed now and been replaced with a frown. He turned to Shadow. "We should probably head to the pick-up point, then."

"Uh...and what about us?"

"Hm? Oh, yeah." At the small burrow-bot's question a faint smile slid easily back onto Sonic's features. "You guys. Me and Shadow can drop you off at the village and talk to the people there about striking up some sort of deal with your group, so you don't hafta go around stealing stuff any more. Sound good?"

"On your head be it if they dismantle us." Caterkiller twitched its metal tweezers grumpily but seemed to acquiesce.

Bat Brain nodded. "Yes. Thank you. Everyone on board with that?"

There was a chorus of what sounded like metallic agreement (and one screeched "What?! What?! You youngfolk are s'pposed ta speak up around yer elder models!")

"Okay, then!" Sonic gave them a grin. "Let's head back to the village!"

"Sonic. What about this prophecy?" Shadow had fallen into step beside him, muttering his question quietly but not less insistent.

"What about it?" Sonic asked, also keeping his rough voice pitched low, their conversation kept private from the rag-tag badnik band puttering through the snow behind them.

"It said we're supposed to fight each other."

There was no reply for a moment, the antarctic wind howling through the gap in their conversation. Shadow glanced over to see the other's expression briefly hardening for a heartbeat, right before he seemed to consciously relax, looking over at Shadow with a distinct trace of warmth in his smile.

"Prophecy, Shmophecy. We don't know if Knuckles even saw everything correctly in that hunk-a-rock of his. No point in worrying about it."

"But...what if." Shadow could feel his own voice growing impatient. "What if we do have to battle? What if...something makes us?" He glanced over at Sonic, surprised to find, just for a second, almost the same emotion on the other's face, a small flash of worry that reflected his own - but then it was gone just as quickly, Sonic only giving him a bright grin.

"Something tryin' to make us do something that we don't want to? I'd like to see that something try. C'mon, Shads," Sonic stepped closer for a moment, giving him a companionable nudge into the side. "What did you always say during our trip with Silver? 'Even if the whole world chooses to become my enemy...'"

" - I will fight like I always have." Shadow finished his own quote almost automatically, giving Sonic a slightly surprised glance. "I didn't know you heard me say that."

"I did. I liked it," Sonic replied with an easy smile. Again, Shadow almost felt like frowning at the compliment, simply because it had sounded...truly genuine. Like, even if you had tried to blow up the planet a few times previously, that blue hedgehog still could find something good about you, just like that. And that felt a bit...strange, at the least. Hurriedly, he tried to pay attention to whatever Sonic was saying again.

"So, even if something tries to control us, we're not gonna give up just like that."

"Yes. Well," Shadow cleared his throat, careful to keep his tone even. "I hope that also works when you're up against...destiny, or whatever strange things you seem to constantly get wrapped up in, blue hedgehog."

Sonic looked over at that last statement and was slightly surprised to finally also see a twitching of tan lips accompany Shadow's words. And he had sounded...almost fond? Sonic wondered. As a reaction, he could feel his own grin growing even slightly wider than he'd planned. He leaned sideways slightly and, out of an impulse, let their shoulders bump together – and then was even more pleased to note that there hadn't been any resistance or stiffening to meet it.

"No worries. We're wrapped up in this together this time." He turned his head to Shadow, giving him a wolfish grin. "I don't want to fight you, so I won't. Destiny can go screw itself."

"Heh. I like that," Shadow replied with a smirk.

"Cool. Then we're all set, right?" Sonic gave the other a thumbs-up, both of them now amiably walking up to the lights of the village close to the pick-up spot.

Sonic knew he should technically probably be worried about Knuckles' words, but, somehow, couldn't seem to care all that much. Walking next to Shadow, their steps through the antarctic night illuminated by their shared bounty of one cyan Chaos Emerald, the darkness that was supposed to devour the sun or whatever, already didn't seem so dark any more.


"Hey." Knuckles, arms crossed and standing in front of Tails' workshop, greeted them with a curt nod as the Tornado touched down in the Mystic Ruins again. The sky still carried only the faintest hints of dawn, so it was a wolfish Sonic and an unchanged Shadow who climbed out of the plane, each nodding a greeting back. Rouge, who was standing next to the echidna, was the first to catch the blue glint between Shadow's fingers and gasped.

"The Emerald! You made it come back to life again!"

"Ah. Yes, sort of," Shadow replied, glancing down at the jewel in his hand. "Seems the secret was only that they need to be touched by me and Sonic at the same time. But they are not back at full power yet." He sounded a bit frustrated. "Chaos Control still wouldn't work."

"Translation: Someone is sore because he had to spend three hours with me in a cramped plane again," Sonic commented helpfully. "But yeah, after Chaos Spear and Chaos Blast with the Emerald went just fine, we tried Chaos Controlling ourselves home first. Didn't work."

"Hm. Perhaps first all of the stones need to be returned to their natural state," Knuckles frowned. "Let's go inside. Perhaps you can also revive the rest of the Emeralds you collected. And then..." His jaw set. "We need to talk about that prophecy."

"Urgh. Not from my point of view," Sonic muttered, but they still followed the bat and echidna inside the fox kit's workshop. Tails was nowhere in sight, which Sonic supposed was due to the fact that it was around 5 am and his nine-year-old kid brother had been working for the whole day straight. He had probably collapsed the moment the remote-controlled Tornado had landed on the Antarctic coast.

"How was your stay in Winterfell?" Rouge looked over her shoulder at the two hedgehogs as they trooped inside the house, giving them a wink.

"Cold," Shadow replied flatly, in a tone that forbade further questioning if the questioner didn't want to be turned into a white walker themselves by the sheer freezing power of Shadow the Hedgehog's voice.

"We met some badnik models from my childhood," Sonic added cheerfully. "I think Shadow found them a bit too...silly."

"They were a travelling circus troupe," the black hedgehog grumbled, walking into the living room first and letting himself fall down onto the couch. "Now, let's talk. Time is running out."

"Right," Knuckles nodded, also settling himself at the couch table as Rouge and Sonic followed. The blue hedgehog tried to make his glance at the window not too obvious – Shadow's remark had reminded him sharply that the other was likely so tense because soon, the first rays of sunshine would be poking over the horizon and fall into their living room – and they both knew what that meant.

He got steadily quieter during the return trip – that was probably why, a voice in Sonic's head commented. A few hours ago, they had parted with the villagers and badniks amicably, and also found the Tornado again without too much trouble. The ride back home had also started not too badly – after their little talk about Knuckles' cryptic remarks regarding this prophecy, Shadow had almost seemed relaxed and a little more open than at the beginning of their adventure – but as soon as they had left the Antarctic circle and its endless night, flying toward the dawn again, the Ultimate Lifeform seemed to have withdrawn into his usual shell again.

"So, what did you actually see?" Sonic asked as they sat around the table. „Anything helpful? Maybe something to do with where all those Shadow clones come from?"

"No," Knuckles shook his head, hesitantly. "It only showed you as a wolf before you turned into the moon and Shadow, in the form of a bird who turned into the sun. It seemed like the moment Shadow appeared, he destroyed the moon, became the sun and then the sun itself turned dark – you were both screaming and then the ground burst apart, which I'll assume meant another shattering of the world."

There was silence in the room. When Shadow spoke, his voice was low.

"So what you're saying think I'm fated to destroy the planet?"

"We don't know that, Shadow," Rouge tried immediately, looking at her partner with eyes containing just a hint of worried sympathy. "It could...hell, the sun turning dark could just be a reference to all those doppelgangers running around, couldn't it? That they're the ones who are trying to destroy the real you, the actual sun? Or something?"

Shadow scoffed. "Me, the sun? Yeah, right. According to the echidna, I'm supposed to be the 'avatar' of Dark Gaia, didn't you hear?"

"I...yes, but I mean, that doesn't-" Rouge tried, lips briefly pressed together into a thin line. "I...don't think it means you're evil, Shadow," she said, quietly. "It doesn't, right, Knuckles?" she glanced back at the echidna.

"It...doesn't have to," Knuckles said, hesitantly. He also shot a glance at Shadow. "Sometimes the prophecies are hard to interpret and-"

"Spare me." Shadow stood up from the couch again, somehow looking more tired now than when he had sat down.

Next to him, Sonic made a small movement with his hand, almost as if he had been intending to reach out to him, but then seemed to abort it, hand dropping back down. "Shadow-"

„It's fine. I'm not worried about any prophecies." He turned toward the door of the living room, casting only a last glance back at them. „I make my own fate, echidna. I always have."

Knuckles huffed. "Shadow, this isn't me who's coming up with-"

"And now if you'll excuse me, I'd like a bit of privacy for the next few minutes." So saying, he left.

Sonic, Knuckles and Rouge exchanged a look.

"Well." Rouge sighed. "That went stellar."

"What the hell? Why'd he leave?" Knuckles shook his head. "We haven't even finished discussing our next move yet!"

"I think that's why. Look outside, Knucklehead. Sun's coming up." Sonic jerked a clawed thumb into the direction of the living room window. A part of him really wanted to go after Shadow and make sure he was...well, as okay as he could be with what was to come. But the other hadn't sounded like he would appreciate the sentiment exactly.

The next moment, the first ray of sun had already poked over the horizon, its light washing over the world and spilling into the living room. Sonic felt it hit him a second before the transformation did, and then his entire body already jerked, preparing to revert to its original form.

"Huh. Is that what it looks like?" Knuckles blinked as the dark, smoke-like trails rose up around Sonic's body on the couch, the only sounds for a moment those of shrinking flesh and vanishing fur, and the soft gasp of the hedgehog to accompany them. Thankfully, the turning back in the morning was nowhere near as violent as the transformation Sonic faced at nightfall, so all that greeted Knuckles and Rouge after the smoke had cleared was just a slightly weary hedgehog, not a panting, pained-looking wolf.

"Yeah. Hi, Knuckles," Sonic gave the (still slightly staring) echidna a little wave, clearing his throat and enjoying the sound of his own voice back at its normal pitch. "Nice special effects or what?"

Knuckles might have been about to reply something to that, but that was when the screaming started in the room above.


"Um. Hey Shads?"


Shadow turned around from where he stood at the sink of the bathroom, looking...well, if Sonic had been honest, looking like a pidgeon and a badger had been glued together and then been involved in a traffic accident. The black hedgehog, freshly-grown wings as disheveled as his fur, eyes tired and bloodshot and ears drooping, glared at him tiredly.

"Oh. Uh. Er. You...want some space?" Sonic took a step backwards, but Shadow waved him off, sighing before rubbing the back of his muzzle with the heel of his hand.

"It's...fine. But these transformations do nothing for my energy level, especially as long as the Chaos field of the planet is still out of whack."

"Gotcha." Sonic nodded. "Actually, I suggested to the others we all take a break and sleep in till midday. Any prophecies here are thousands of years old, they can wait until after we've caught some Zs. I mean, it's been a long day. Night. Whatever."

"…Uh." Shadow blinked at him for a moment, owlishly, before he appeared to get his faculties together again. " don't mind missing out on your untransformed time?" he asked, voice raspy and low. If I had a choice, I'd sleep my sunlight hours away until this nightmare was over, were the words he didn't say, and he wondered if Sonic had heard them.

Sonic, however, just shrugged. "Well, I'm not crazy about being stuck as a wolf, but...I don't think it's as bad for me as it is for you." He gave a lop-sided smile. "Y'know, if we could make it through this whole thing during night time...I'd be okay with that."

"What?" the question was out before Shadow could stop it. "How?"

At his incredulity, Sonic now almost seemed amused. "Because...well, I know that no matter what I look like, I'm still me. Nothing's gonna change that." He shifted slightly. "And...for what it's worth, I also think you're still you. After all, it never mattered to me how many appendages my friends had." This was, of course, accompanied with a wink.

"…right," Shadow replied with a frown, not quite sure how to reply to that. He had a feeling around Sonic he'd feel wrong-footed even if he wasn't currently changing species every 12 hours.

"Yeah," Sonic confirmed. "So, let's catch a few hours of shut-eye until midday or so. Not much we can do until Tails is up again, anyway. You wanna head back to your place at Rouge's, or...?"

Shadow had to focus to tell himself that the question hadn't just sounded hopeful at the end.

"If it's alright, I thought of crashing here."

"Oh. Yeah, that's cool," Sonic said almost a bit too quickly, but then grinned and turned around to start bounding down the stairs. "C'mon, let's set stuff up! You wanna stay on the couch again...? I actually think Rouge is occupying my room at the moment, so, you're probably too late for calling dibs on a proper bed."

Shadow shrugged, his wings brushing only ever so slightly against the ceiling. "That's alright. I'd probably shred your covers with these claws. You already have a destroyed couch."

"Yeah, the couch, but for bed sheets, you forget it's usually me sleeping in them. Not much that these babies can't cut," Sonic said, patting his own quills fondly for a moment, "so Tails has already designed some cut-and-shred-proof bed sheets for it. Says otherwise we'd spend more on linen than on food."

Shadow frowned at this. His own quills were as sharp as Sonic's, so of course he knew the danger they could prove to bed sheets and tapestries, (and, sometimes, unsuspecting bystanders on a cramped bus ride...), but usually, a hedgehog's quills were relaxed when he was sleeping or feeling at ease. Sonic's quills being raised enough to tear the fabric while he was sleeping in his own bed could only mean...

"Rough nights, sometimes?" Shadow asked, voice low enough that if he wanted, Sonic could probably just pretend to not have heard him. But instead…

"...yeah," Sonic said, pausing for a moment in his set-up of the couch, pillow in hand and head tilted up at Shadow in the dim light of the early morning dawn. "It' adventures might not always have gone as smoothly as the comics would have you believe. I know, crazy, right?" he let his lips twitch briefly into a wry grin as he tossed the pillow onto the couch and grabbed a blanket to go with it. "Anyway, sometimes that means I get...sort of a best-of of 'Robotnik's Greatest Hits' – and I mean that literally – in my dreams, I guess?" Sonic made a grimace, his more sombre expression at odds with the pun.

"Sometimes I..." He cut himself off. "Well. Let's just say that I've lived through worse than turning into a Teen Wolf reject every night." He tried to give Shadow a smile that did not seem quite as energetic and genuine as the others had beenm but then turned that into a shrug quickly. "So, whenever that happened – rip! and R.I.P. another set of bed sheets. So, Tails eventually came up with some sort of ultra-tough sheets that even survive a bad night for me. He's really smart that way," Sonic said, and for a moment, Shadow felt a small sting inside at the obvious pride in those words.

For a moment, he struggled to come up with anything to follow it up – it was a bit of a strange morning, and his head was starting to feel fuzzy from being awake for almost 24 hours, including a few minutes of that which he had spent effectively drowned - so in the end, he settled for a simple, acknowledging grunt and let himself collapse onto the made-up couch, wings on his back awkwardly squishing against the upholstery. Sonic's mouth quirked up at one corner in an companionable smile.

"You're wiped, too, huh?"

"A bit," Shadow admitted, curiously for once not feeling like an enquiry after his energy-level was a personal jab aimed at him. And besides, after what Sonic had just shared, admitting to simply being tired seemed small in comparison.

"I...know what it's like to have dreams like that," Shadow tried, feeling awkward and right as he said it. He turned his head away, not keen on seeing Sonic's expression. Not keen on seeing any potential pity.

To his surprise, there wasn't any.

"Yeah," Sonic simply said. "Though it wouldn't do to ever let anything slip to 'buttnik that he apparently managed to give my dreamworld a good whumping. He'd probably let it go to his ugly head."

"Hence the quips and bravado," Shadow said thoughtfully. "That makes sense."

"Hey, most of that is genuine. I do think I'm hilarious, thank you very much," Sonic retorted, poking his tongue out. "No dissent there, I hope?"

"No. I...understand. I think," Shadow frowned. He was feeling a bit wrong-footed, here, not having expected Sonic to share something like that. Sonic, who could appear to be the most vapid, air-headed, annoying adrenaline junkie on the planet...apparently sometimes has trouble sleeping just like you.

"It's actually not that bad," Sonic continued on, turning his head to Shadow again with a small smile. „Y'know, when you can tell someone who...yeah." Someone who would know what it's like, was the unspoken second half of the sentence, Shadow guessed. But Sonic also didn't look like someone who pitied him for it. "Y'know, like, I figure Tails kinda guesses what's going on, but I can hardly load all that crap onto him, so. Yeah," he repeated, rubbing the back of his head before stretching. "Uh. Good manly talk here, right?"

Shadow made a noise that was half-way between the snort he had intended and a chortle of genuine laughter he hadn't – before also seeing the twinkle in the Sonic's eye and the grin indicating that the serious talk was probably over and the joker back in.

"Yeah. Whatever you say, blue hedgehog."

"Good to know. Alright, I'm gonna turn in with Tails. See ya in a coupla hours!" Sonic waved cheerfully over his should as he walked off toward the kit's bedroom, leaving Shadow sitting on the couch and wondering just a bit whether he might have dreamed that conversation as well.

But the dreams came easy after that, and, curiously enough, there were no nightmares at all.


"Oh, hey. Morning, everyone." It was only a few minutes after they had woken up and made their way toward the breakfast table that Tails sleepily trooped into the kitchen, groping for the orange juice in the fridge. "Got back alright?"

"Yeah. Though we did get attacked by those Shadow-clones again." Sonic nodded. "Any new leads on that? Knucklehead's prophecy was a bit of a bust in that area..."

"Not yet. But I think I made a bit of headway about that eclipse the other day. It seems like somehow, a large chunk of Dark Gaia Energy was suddenly added to the planet, blocking out the sun when it entered the atmosphere – and that was what upset the balance this time."

"What?" Shadow frowned at the idea. "How is that supposed to work? Are there lumps of unattached Dark Gaia simply...flying around in space?"

"Well, technically that shouldn't be possible, no." Tails scratched his head. "All planets that support life are always born with a Gaia that consists of two halves that make a whole – I don't think there could even be an inhabited planet that only had one type of Gaia. You saw what happened to the life on this planet when our Light Gaia went missing only briefly..." Tails trailed off, looking uncomfortable.

Sonic frowned. "Yeah. Now that you mention it, if there's an imbalance again, it's kinda weird that those Dark Gaia creatures aren't showing up everywhere this time."

Tails shot him a helpless glance, his expression conveying that he also wished his read-outs made more sense, and then slumped into his chair. Then his head snapped up again.

"Oh! I almost forgot!" His ears had shot upright, clearly excited. "I located the next Emerald!"

"Really? Cool!" Sonic gave him a grin back. "Where is it?"

"Currently? I think it's probably in Breezie the Hedgehog's safe. It's going to be the first prize for the Dusty Desert Destruction Race tomorrow! They just announced it on the website."

"Wha – no way!" Sonic exclaimed. "Seriously?!"

"The what now?" Shadow looked from one of them to the other, clearly at a loss.

"The DDDR, Shads," Sonic flashed him a grin. "It's only the toughest, most dangerous, and awesome dirt rally this side of the equator. They often have some really cool surprise prizes for first place – and this year it appears to be an Emerald."

"We need this Emerald to prevent the planet shattering apart." Shadow frowned. "They can't have it as the prize of a race."

"Well, that's Breezie for ya." Sonic pulled a face. "If you told her you needed the thing to stop the apocalypse itself, she'd just use it for PR."

"Who the hell is this Breezie now?" Shadow asked, wings twitching in obvious irritation at all the unfamiliar terms and names.

"Breezie," Sonic pinched the skin between his eyes, "is the CEO and owner of one of the biggest, if not the biggest entertainment network this side of the planet."

"I don't watch much television." Shadow frowned. „Why do you know this sort of thing?"

"Uh...well..." Sonic rubbed the back of his head, now curiously looking a bit embarrassed. "Well, like it or not, I am a brand name. I mean, even you would've noticed all the merch with my face on it, right?"

"...I try to avoid looking at it."

"Oh, ouch," Sonic poked his tongue out at him, but then continued more seriously, "But yeah, bottom line is, they started making this stuff without my consent ever since I went after Robotnik the first time, so I figured if I can't stop them, then I at least want a say in what they're producing."

"That and the royalty cheque, I presume."

Sonic shrugged. "Actually, after buying the house for Tails and paying the bills here, most of it goes straight to an anonymous fund for Robuttnik's victims. Never needed much for myself, honestly – 'twas more the principle of the thing."

"Huh." Shadow managed. That was a bit of novel information. He had been inclined so far to follow the echidna's estimation of Sonic as an irresposible thrill seeker largely concerned with his own amusement, but hearing this – Sonic as someone who, without getting any recognition for it whatsoever, was trying to make the world a better place...Maria would have approved of it, a voice in his head whispered and Shadow hurriedly tried to hide the conflicting feelings of painful memories and simultaneous grudging new respect for the other hedgehog.

"So, uh, and that means you know this Breezie how...?" he asked, attempting to steer the conversation back to more familiar terrain.

"Well. They started out with first the comics, and then the games," Sonic drummed his fingers on the table. "But Breezie has been on my case to get the rights for some sort of 'Sonic Boom' TV show for over half a year now." He made a face. "She also wanted a spin-off game for that show but that one sounded terrible. Shot that down right from the start."

"She's sending us about three proposals per week," Tails added with a wince. "Though I think it's a bit of a weird concept, they want Knuckles to be played this one, really buff guy who's, like, two feet taller than him, too..."

"Yeah, and they felt the need to re-design my arms," Sonic shot Shadow a glance that conveyed that in his opinion someone on the design team for this show had a few screws loose, but then shook his head. "But yeah, anyway. Breezie is this entertainment giant, she could give Rouge a run for her money when it comes to holding onto...well, money, and she's also the organizer of the annual Dusty Desert Destruction Race, which she televises. And she wouldn't give us that Emerald for free if the fate of the world depended on it, which means..."

Shadow gave Sonic a flat stare.

"We will have to compete in that stupid race, won't we."


"Brilliant." Shadow ran a hand through his quills. "Well. At least that means this Emerald should be somewhat easier to get than the last one, then." He snorted. "Can't imagine it will be too much trouble for you to win a race. During daylight, anyway..."

"Er, well, actually..."

Shadow could feel his heart sink a little at Sonic's somewhat strained smile.


Tails laughed. "Actually, Sonic did that four years ago already. Ever since then they have introduced a sub clause that you've gotta be riding a motor-powered, self-engineered vehicle - and are expressly forbidden to embarrass people by running rings around them."

"Why am I not surprised." Shadow rubbed the back of his head, but at least his tone was less annoyance and more long-suffering resignation. "Well, in that case, you sign up, fox kid. When it's about engineering and piloting a vehicle, I'm sure the Doctor would be about the only match for you."

"Aw, wow, uh, thank you, but, er..." Tails was visibly glowing with pride at the praise, but, curiously, also seemed to be squirming a bit. This time it was Sonic who laughed.

"Ah, sorry, Shads, but he did that three years ago - and ever since he won two years consecutively, they've introduced another sub clause that you can't be named Miles Prower."

"Well, I certainly can't participate, either," Shadow frowned, "No matter the vehicle, if it's a daylight race my wings would create too much drag. Can't you race on your Extreme Gear?"

Sonic shook his head. "Nope, rules are whatever you race with, it has to have tires. Otherwise this would just turn into an Extreme Gear cup."

"Great," Shadow massaged his forehead, before shooting a glance at Sonic. "Well, in that case, since neither me nor the fox can take part in the race...guess who that leaves."

Sonic blinked. "Er, wait, what? How am I supposed to participate? I can't even ride a bicycle, Shadow."

"Well," Shadow smirked. "Good thing I don't own a bicycle, then..."

To be continued…

...sometime during this century!

(Seriously, the backlog of reviews in our inbox is gigantic, so trying to get to that, but might take a while. But massive thanks to anyone who reviewed and/or is still reading! :D)

Meanwhile, though, I might have something else for you, in case any of you are interested in a crossover of a certain speeding hedgehog and, well...monsters in, say, pocket-size format...(yeah, I'm playing that stupid app like everybody else XD, but that crossover has actually been in the works for a while. But I think now's a good point for putting it up! Please visit my profile and enjoy "Catch Them If You Can!" :D)

Also see you at Summer of Sonic, if you go, oh yeah! :3