Shadow paced down the dark yet familiar corridors of the long abandoned space colony, ARK. His dark fur bristled with the warmth of being back where he was created, but beads of sweat threatened to seep through his thick white gloves- he was furious as to why he was up here once more. It was miraculous that he was granted clearance to serve GUN this time, as many of the other agents deemed his involvement unnecessary- dangerous, even. Some claimed that Shadow would use the colony as a weapon against GUN to take revenge on the events that took place here a mere fifty-one years ago. This theory was ridiculous- Shadow had gotten that out of his system a long time ago. Granted, these were the same people who refused to accept him as an agent to begin with, but it would be nice if he could go on a serious assignment without having to be escorted. It was clear as to why the Commander insisted that Shadow was to be the one to go- on one knew the layout of the massive colony as well as the black and crimson hedgehog. However, it was clear that the Commander had his doubts as well- the bomb on Shadow's wrist was more than enough proof. Still, it seemed odd that the Commander assigned Rouge to control the bomb and accompany him.

"Shadow!" she called, bringing him back to reality. "What's that over there?" She pointed to a nondescript section of the sleek, metallic wall.

"I don't see any-" he began, but quickly stopped as she pointed to their earpieces and motioned for him to play along. "Oh, that? That's one of the Professor's vulcanized cannons," he ad-libbed. The bat calmly worked with skilled hands to remove the bomb. She punched in the combination and it came off with a small click as Shadow went on. " the point that we figured we wouldn't need to defend ourselves," he finished with a dark chuckle. She carried the heavy contraption until she reached an inconspicuous corner and laid it beneath a window. He nodded his appreciation as they continued onward.

"You mentioned earlier that you and Maria would run races down these halls," noted Rouge as she looked around the musty corridors. She seemed unimpressed, given the lack of opulence and shiny things, but tried to remain respectful. Shadow was about to answer but abruptly stopped once they came to the next hallway. "Wha-?" Rouge started. She stopped once she noticed what was bothering him: there was a large stain of dark crimson blood on the floor in the center of the hall. It was faded due to age but was dark enough to be noticed. How he and Maria managed to get away from the soldiers was all a blur; the only things Shadow could remember were Maria being shot and her final goodbye, a good fifty-something yards away. He couldn't even recall how she managed to coax him into the escape capsule. It was a pity that they couldn't escape together, but her affliction made it impossible for her to last on the bright, blue planet below. The black hedgehog swallowed his reprieve and entered solemnly, taking care not to tread where his sweet Maria was shot. He tried in vain to keep any and all unsavory thoughts of gun from his mind as they passed through. Neither he nor Rouge spoke until they reached the chamber at the end of the hall, which contained the remaining escape capsules. "Is this where...?" Rouge started. Shadow nodded. His attention was fixed on the single, empty case in the far left corner. He began to saunter towards the bare cabinet but stopped once he saw the control panel in the center of the room. A second, much larger blood stain coated the floor below it. This is where she died, alone and afraid, for crimes she did not commit. Shadow fell to his knees in silent agony and tried to keep his composure. His eyes, fighting back tears, perused over the vile mark and noticed a small, matted clump of champagne-colored hair lying nearby. Reaching out tentatively, the hedgehog noticed that although delicate and satiny, it seemed as if it had been torn out when her cold, lifeless body had been carelessly removed with those of the researchers who shared the same, wretched fate. Shadow held out his hand to Rouge, who deposited a tiny plastic bag in his grasp. The bags had been meant to hold any evidence that they found, but there were enough to allow Shadow to keep this one find.

This is my 2nd fanfic, and hopefully will actually be finished. My first, Emerald Trouble, can be read via my dA account (link on my profile). Stay tuned! Comments and constructive criticism are always welcome!