It had been almost a year since the Apex Killer had kidnapped, tortured, and nearly killed Tails. Since then, the police had been searching the Killer's home, van, and the toolshed. They found the makeshift meat locker in the basement and identified several carcasses as the remains of some of the victims. With a mountain of evidence against him the Apex Killer confessed to everything in an almost proud manner. The entire city was rocked to its core when the full horror of the Apex Killer's murder spree was revealed. A large number of citizens were demanding that the Killer be served the death sentence for the primal barbarism of his crimes. After all of the evidence had been organized, the Apex Killer was put on trial for the murders, improper disposal of remains on more than 10 counts and the attempted murder, wrongful imprisonment, and torture of Miles 'Tails' Prower.
Tails was the prosecution's star witness and he testified against the Apex Killer. He told how his two days in the Killer's grasp played out and showed the jury the long scar inflicted by the whip. Everyone was mortified at level of cruelty and almost the whole courtroom was stunned into silence when the park surveillance video that showed Tails' abduction and a recording of Tails' 911 call was played. Shadow and Knuckles also came to the stand as witnesses and described what happened when they arrived at the scene. After three days, the jury pronounced the Apex Killer or Alex Ortiz guilty on all counts. The judge sentenced him to death. There was cheering throughout the whole court room but was quickly silenced by a shout from Tails, "Wait a minute!" everyone became hushed. Tails ran up to the witness podium and removed the microphone. He turned to the judge, "Your Honor, if I may be so bold, I ask you to please change Mr. Ortiz's sentence." Everyone gasped.
Tails continued, "Please, hear me out. What Mr. Ortiz has done to me has scarred me forever. He has destroyed so many families with his heinous crimes and has forever traumatized this entire city. But, we cannot execute him. Because if we do, we are no better than him. I have no pity for Mr. Ortiz and for the rest of my life I will be dealing with the horror and the hate but we can't allow ourselves to stoop to his level."
The courtroom was silent until the judge said, "Miles Prower you are absolutely right. Do the victim's families agree?"
The families all nodded and said, "Yes"
The judge than said, "Than I am herby resentencing Alex Ortiz to life imprisonment with no possibility of parole. Mr. Ortiz, do you have anything to say for yourself?"
Mr. Ortiz, who had been fairly silent during the whole trial, sneered and said, "I only regret that I never got to know what fox tastes like." The courtroom erupted into gasps and a few screams. Tails dropped the microphone and backed away in to the protective arms of Shadow, Sonic, and Knuckles. Mr. Ortiz threw back his head and laughed evilly, "I knew I would finally break you. I'm going to remember your scared little face when I'm in jail!"
Sonic broke away from Tails, "You bastard!" Shadow quickly grabbed Sonic by the arm and held him back as the furious blue hedgehog tried to lunge at Mr. Ortiz. Tails ran in front of Sonic who shouting at Mr. Ortiz, "You frickin' scum bag! If you as much as look at Tails again, you're gonna wish you were never frickin' born!" Sonic was not the only one who was enraged by Mr. Ortiz's comment. Several other people in the court started to yell obscenities and try to seriously hurt the heartless serial killer.
The judge bellowed, "Case dismissed, get this monster out of here." Police dragged Mr. Ortiz through a courtroom of angry shouting people, shoved him into a cruiser, and drove him to jail to serve out his life sentence. After he had gone, everything turned from anger to sorrow and trauma.
One week had passed since the trial. Tails invited Shadow down into his basement lab. "What's this about Tails?" asked Shadow as Tails led him to a familiar little corner. The machine now had several more wires and the large dome that was reduced to two helmet looking devices which were connected to the control panel. All of this was hooked up to the control panel.
"Well, I've been trying to figure out what went wrong with the machine the last time we tested it. And I think I mad as breakthrough. The reason it didn't work last time is because the machine couldn't handle storing memories long enough to restore and rewrite them back into your mind. There's no way to convert memory into data that can be handled by any computer. So, I modified the machine a little. Take a seat."
Shadow sat down under the in a chair and Tails sat in a neighboring chair. Shadow looked at the one helmets and said, "So what did you come up with for the solution?"
Tails picked up the other helmet, "The only thing that can handle memories is the mind. So, what these helmets are going to do is copy one of your damaged memories, paste it into my mind, restore it, than rewrite it back into your mind."
Shadow said in a surprised tone, "Really? But, are you sure you want to do this? What if something goes wrong?"
Tails smiled, "Don't worry. Nothing is gonna happen. Put on your helmet and we'll fire this puppy up." Shadow nodded and put on the helmet. Tails did the same and pressed a few buttons on the control panel. He threw a lever and the machine whirred into action. Shadow flinched as he felt a small sting in his head. Tails said "Ok. Starting the retrieval process." He flicked a switch and both he and Shadow winced as the machine tapped into their minds and went about its work.
Tails briefly got blurry flashes of a human girl with blonde hair and blue eyes. She had a very kind face and Tails occasionally caught an innocent laugh or a gentle whisper. He got the sense that this girl was a wonderful person and really important to Shadow. An orange light came on the control panel. As he pushed a button, Tails said, "Engaging restoration." Tails began to lose himself in his mind as the flashes became more prolonged and clearer. The girl was saying something. Her face was had a pretty smile as she spoke. Until she paused and the smile dropped. Tails got a sensation of someone grasping his hands in theirs. The girl looked him in the eyes and was saying something that Tails couldn't quite make it out. However, something told him that what the girl was saying something very important, a promise. When she had finished speaking, Tails found himself nodding. A small beep from the control panel and Shadow's voice brought Tails back to reality.
"Tails are you ok?" asked Shadow as the fox blinked in a daze.
Tails gave his head a shake, "Yeah sorry. Alright, time for the last step. Initiating rewrite." Tails pulled a small lever. Immediately, Tails felt the images of the girl drain out of his mind. After about two minutes, they were gone, leaving Tails with a slightly light-headed feeling. Shadow's eyes widened as he was slammed by a long-forgotten memory flooding his mind
Shadow was sitting by one of the many observation widows of Space Colony ARK with Maria. It was their favorite window for it had a full view of the beautiful, blue Earth. Maria turned her and smiled at Shadow. She said, "Isn't the Earth beautiful Shadow? I wish I could go there but Grandfather says I'm too sick to go."
Shadow replied, "You can always go when you get better. I'll take you there!" Maria laughed, "That's very sweet of you Shadow."
Shadow smiled shyly, "Well, you're my best friend. I want to make sure you're happy. Just like how I want to make Professor Gerald happy because of all he's done for me. I want to do good things and make you proud."
Maria's smile faded. She took Shadow's hands in her own. It never ceased to amaze Shadow how Maria's hands were always so cold. Maria looked Shadow in the eyes, "Shadow. I know you want to do good things and help people. That's great, but I want you to remember to also make yourself happy too. Find things that you like to do and take time to do those things. Shadow, promise me you'll remember to make time for yourself. Promise me that you'll remember to make yourself happy."
Shadow nodded his head, "I promise Maria. I promise."
Shadow opened his eyes. He was speechless. The orange light turned to green on the control panel. Tails said, "Rewrite complete. Shadow? How do you feel?" Shadow looked up at Tails, dumbfounded. Tails was concerned, "Are you alright?"
Shadow said quietly, "I remember."
"What?" asked Tails.
Shadow said louder, "I remember. I remember!"
Tails jumped up, "You do?"
Shadow leapt to his feet as well, "Yes! I remember!" Shadow grabbed Tails in a hug, "Tails, I remember! I remember!"
Tails hugged him back, "Oh my gosh! It worked, it worked, it worked! Shadow it worked!" Sonic and Knuckles came running down the stairs.
Sonic shouted, "What happened? What's wrong?"
Tails turned to Sonic, absolutely overjoyed, "Sonic! It worked! My machine works!"
Sonic practically did a backflip, "Awesome! That's fantastic!"
Knuckles grinned ear to ear, "Nice! Now you can finally get your past back!" Suddenly a knock on the front door was heard.
The four ran up the steps, still happy and giddy about what happened. Tails got to the door first and answered it. Standing on the porch was a female raccoon with fire red hair and a lab outfit on. When she turned to see the four guys standing in the doorway, she turned as red as her hair and said nervously, "Hello. My name is Mikysara. I'm one of Dr. Botner's interns at the University of Neurological Studies."
Tails replied, "Oh hi. What's up?"
Mikysara started at her shoes as she said, "Dr. Botner wanted to say that he's very sorry about the unfortunate ordeal you endured recently. But now that it's over, he was wondering how the machine is going. He heard you had a test subject."
Shadow stepped forward, "Test subject? What are you talking about?"
Tails stepped onto the porch, "Guys, give me a minute ok?" Sonic, Knuckles, and Shadow slowly retreated inside.
The three sat down on the couch. Shadow turned to Sonic, "Sonic what was that girl talking about?"
Sonic was silent before saying, "I'm not sure. Do you remember when Tails explained the whole machine thing to you?"
Shadow thought for a moment, "It seems so long ago, but yeah. I think he mentioned a university. Unfortunately I wasn't paying much attention until he mentioned what the machine did."
Sonic replied, "Well, the reason Tails asked me to find you is because the university asked him to build the thing." Knuckles had gotten up and was peeping down the entry hall and watching the door.
Shadow said, "So Tails picked me because I was the perfect candidate to help him with this…"
Sonic immediately looked him in the eye, "Shadow, listen to me. When Tails told me about this, one of his first thoughts was how this would help you." Shadow did not reply. He turned his eyes to the floor. Tails reentered the room.
Tails sighed and ran his fingers through his bangs, "Shadow, I have some explaining to do." Shadow said nothing but merely cast him a look to go on. Tails sighed once more, "I don't know if you recall, I certainly forgot, when I talked to you about helping me, I mentioned that the University of Neurological Studies had asked me to make it. Right?" Shadow gave the tiniest of nods. Tails continued, "That intern was sent by the doctor who asked me to build the machine to see my progress. With everything that has happened in the last year, I haven't contacted him in a long time. But Shadow, even though this project would make my career as an inventor and scientist, I never had that in mind. I always thought about helping you. Please, I never meant to use you. I-" Shadow put a hand up to stop Tails. He stood from the couch and walked toward Tails.
Shadow cleared his throat, "Tails. I hate to be used. I hate to be deceived. I don't trust. I don't open up. But… with all that we've been through… I trust you Tails. And I trust you Sonic and Knuckles. I believe you when say that you weren't using me. I want to give you guys something for all you've given me."
Shadow, Sonic, Knuckles, and Tails had just arrived at their destination via Chaos Control. Sonic, Tails, and Knuckles all had their eyes closed. Shadow said, "Ok. Open your eyes." The three did so and all gasped. They were standing on top of a small hill under a huge oak tree. Below them was a stretching field of waving grass in the breeze and dots of lovely fall wildflowers. The sky was completely clear blue and the sun warmed the area.
Sonic took a big whiff of the air, "Wow. This place is beautiful."
Tails was staring at the sky, "It's breathtaking."
Even Knuckles was tacked aback, "So untouched by the impurity of the city."
Shadow smiled, "This is my special place to be alone but…" Here, Shadow's smile faded, "I'm tired of being alone. I… would like to continue living with you guys… if you'll have me."
Tails whirled around, a huge smile on his face, "Shadow, you have no idea how long we've been waiting for you to ask that. Of course we'll have you!"
Sonic gave Shadow a thumbs up, "Did you even need to ask?"
Knuckles put his hands on his hips, "Yeah, you must be super dense. Why would we say no?" Sonic, Tails, and Knuckles embraced their now permanent house-mate who did not hesitate to embrace back.
Maria, I've fulfilled my promise to you. I'm happy.
Author's Note: I'd like to thank everyone who has stuck with this story and have given reviews. It really helped me make it through and reassured me that people are reading and liking my stories. I hope this ending satisfied and tied up all of the loose ends. If you have any questions about the ending or the story in general, please feel free to PM me. Thank you again for reading.