Hey Alman, since when was Eggman any good at thinking up names? (No offence taken. Black Crystal has actually been around longer than Shadow has; he was my brother's idea years ago! A few months after SA maybe...? So when I first heard rumours of Shadow, I could barely believe my eyes! [I was on the Web] Anyway, I've edited his story a lot since then, both for FanFiction.Net and to include Shadow, but the basic idea is still the same, though he couldn't originally Chaos Control! It took SA2 to bring that in!)
Glad you're all enjoying! Hope you continue to do so!
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Sonic dashed along, the ground blurring past beneath his feet. Tails' voice crackled over the little radio in his hand.

"Okay Sonic, now turn left! You're just about level with him!"

Sonic skidded on the turn, then forced himself to run even faster.

"It's a straight run ahead now, Sonic! You can do it!" Tails' voice shouted encouragement, and Sonic threw everything he had into that one, last, flat-out run. He couldn't afford trying to look for Crystal, that would slow him down; he couldn't take his eyes from his goal for even a fraction of a second.

"He's behind you, but he's gaining slowly!" Alarm in Tails' voice. Crystal was a robot, with machine-like precision; that meant he could probably travel faster, on average, than Sonic. But Sonic refused to let him. Every tiny fraction of strength he had he threw into running. He wasn't sure he could blink at that speed. The air was like a wall, a very hard, solid wall, and one he was running into at full tilt. The wind forced tears from even his eyes, blurring that point ahead where he knew the Emerald waited. Tails shouted something over the radio, but the wind whipped it away, left the sound uselessly far behind Sonic. Who was still - just - accelerating.

And behind him, slowly but surely, Black Crystal was falling behind.

Expressionless white-blue eyes stared ahead at the blue figure, still running, that was actually beating their owner to its goal. Unlike Sonic, it would never grow tired, would never feel pain - those things were not programmed into the robotic control chip embedded in the back of Crystal's neck. The crystalline circuits in his 'brain', carved out by Robotnik's precisely focused micro-laser tools, worked in their odd medium several times faster than any conventional circuit, built using conventional materials, could. Without having to take on some of Sonic's mentality, Crystal could do all that Sonic could - from scratch. Thoughts flashed through his carefully structured, mechanical mind countless times faster than those of almost any living creature. Almost. But Sonic had the same reaction speeds, the same almost-impossible reflexes. Sonic was as good as Crystal. With not even the slightest trace of worry, the mechanical mind of Robotnik's greatest creation drew a conclusion at its lightning-fast speeds. Sonic was probably better than Crystal. For Sonic had intuition and the unpredictability granted solely through being free in his own life. Crystal had as much intuition as any, his brain a continuously changing neural network, but he was not free. He had his own mind - but on that mind there were constraints, imposed by the controlling chip. The first of those was simply, 'why?'.

But Sonic was also fallible. A lot of his mind of necessity worked beneath the surface of his awareness. Crystal's mind was clear, sparked with the lightning of thought, down to its very bottom. Crystal could follow every path of thought, not just those that were not lost in his subconscious, because the control chip would allow him no subconscious mind. Everything happened in his blazing awareness. Sonic was more likely to make mistakes - but more likely therefore to second-guess his opponent by doing things that either Crystal could not think of, by the limitations the controlling chip imposed, or that Crystal would discount as moves that would not reach Sonic's awareness. Or, by not doing things that Crystal would see as the logical, rational, next step.

Like this chase. Sonic's best option would have been to allow Crystal, who was already ahead, to get this Emerald while he turned away to get a head start on the next one. Instead, he began this race. And - for he had done something unanticipated, pushing himself beyond the limits of his endurance - he had actually won.

Sonic came to a halt, almost too fast, almost falling, fighting for enough air to breathe freely, but the Emerald was clasped in his left hand. Still gasping for air, trying to catch his breath, heartbeat pounding crazily in his ears, Sonic looked back at his opponent, expecting him to be already attacking. But instead, Crystal stood several metres away, perfectly still, simply looking at Sonic. Something was happening beneath his awareness that he did not attempt to explain or analyse. He could not. Raising one hand in a strange gesture, neither salute nor farewell, he shot vertically upwards and disappeared from view.

"Sonic?" Tails' voice crackled over the radio. "What happened?"

"I... I don't know, Tails. I reached the Emerald first, but he didn't even try to fight me for it - and he could have done, while I was trying to get my breath back. I don't know what I saw... almost like... respect...?"

Tails didn't understand. He couldn't. He hadn't seen what Sonic was talking about.

"Never mind, Tails. Just bring the plane in. We're going to find those other Emeralds!"