There was a man.......a man in a blue suit...and pants black as a shadow. He wore glasses that shone as the light's rays did their job, reflecting off the glass and hiding his eyes beneath the brightness. He spoke words, impossible to understand. Computers and strange machines filled the background, leaving all of nature's beauty out of sight. This man......was the victim....

The hedgehog's dark red eyes opened, gaining freedom from their lids. He lifted his head, ready to dash off on his jet-propelled sneakers. "He is the one", was all he said, before he sped off into the night sky.

Sonic The Hedgehog

Deep In The Shadows

Chapter One: A Hedgehog in Blue

"Sonic!!!" the young fox screamed. "Sonic! Where are ya, Sonic!?" "Right here, Lil' Bro!" Tails turned to where the familiar voice came from and saw a familiar blue hedgehog laying down on a beach chair, chilidog in hand. "Man, ya'd think when ya get the smell of chili, you'd know I'm around!" Tails flew up to Sonic, landing by his side. "Well it's pretty hard to smell chili when you're in a sandy beach like this one. Especially when the smell of salt's all around." "Puh-lease! This hedgehog can smell a chilidog from a mile away! And get there in a quarter of a second!" Sonic winked at Tails.

"Hey Sonic, bet ya can't beat me in a race to the farthest chilidog stand!" "Which is?" "At the end of the big city behind this beach!" "You're on!"

With that, they took off. Fox by air, hedgehog by foot. Sonic ran face first, arms stretched behind him, legs in a blur, sneakers polished, and spines ready for a spin. He loved the feeling. Running at speeds no bird can fly or fish can swim. He loved the feeling of the soft wind pushing on his face, preventing his body from releasing any sweat. It was his pride, what he loved most. The only thing that kept his ego the size it was.

Tails knew all this. He knew how much Sonic loved his speed. The feeling of the air moving swiftly through his body. He knew how much it meant to him, and how much he would suffer if it were taken away from him. Tails himself didn't want speed, or spines, or soap shoes. He wanted to be just like his blue, spiny hero. He wanted to be known all around the world for his coolness and bravery. He wanted to one day find a child just like himself who looks up to him, just like he does to Sonic. However, he didn't believe he could accomplish this task...

"Hey Tails!" Sonic interrupted his thoughts. "Think ya can make it through the city!? I see some mondo traffic ahead!" "Sure thing, Sonic!" As soon as Tails finished assuring him, Sonic jumped onto a wall, bounced off, hit the ground, and ran at top speed along the streets of Mete'or. Hard as the black cement of the street was, Sonic ran swiftly as usual, with Tails right at his heels.
They moved together. One by ground, one by air, constantly making glances at each other, smirking or smiling whenever their eyes met. Tails saw this as a reward. He saw a smirk or a nod from Sonic as proof that he is doing well with his speed, confidence, and loyalty. Tails was a brave young fox. Sometimes having a stronger heart than his blue hero himself. Sonic saw this in him. He knew that someday, Tails would become a greater hero than him. Sarcastic and hard-headed as he was, he would never admit it. At least not to Tails. A hero in training he was, and Sonic was proud to be his guidance.

Together, they dodged cars, trucks, poles, water-pumps, signs, anything that could possibly get in their way. Fast as he was, wind trailed behind him at all times, usually scattering held papers or wrinkling people's clothes and hair. Sonic loved it when he ran past somebody who's hair was at first neatly combed, all of a sudden found it trailing behind him as he sped by, with only their roots to hold them from the traveling wind. The Blue Blur he was. And the Blue Blur he would always be.
"Sonic! There it is!" Tails screamed as he pointed toward a chilidog stand with a yellow and red umbrella above it. "Time ta' pick up the juice!" Sonic said with a smirk, barely stopping to perform his well-known Spin Dash. If not for the spin dash, the duo would have reached the goal as a tie, but with the added speed, Sonic won the race by fifteen feet or more.
By the time Tails got to the stand, Sonic was leaning against the counter, chilidog and soda in hand. "Man, am I the priority hedgehog or what!?" "You're WHAT!" Tails shot back. "No fair! I don't have a spin dash!" "Well I do, and I gotta perfect pair o' spines to use it!" Sonic yelled in a hip show-off way as he admired himself in a small pocket- mirror. "Be careful, it might break from all the pressure." Tails said sarcastically. "What pressure? All I see is hedgehog-perfection..." Sonic ran his hand through the short fur on his head, from his bare forehead to the tip of his spine. "Yep, doesn't get any cooler than this!" "In that case the 'cool' phrase is totally outta' style." Tails was still being sarcastic, but Sonic showed no form of surrender. He loved himself, his spines, his short blue fur, his green eyes, his ego, and especially his overwhelming speed. He loved himself in every way. His pride, no one could take away from him.

They spent hours there. Joking around, giving each other brotherly nudges, and talked about all of their adventures, Sonic doing most of the talking. The sun was going down, slowly, and shimmering in the sky, creating a pink aura around the bluish-black sky surrounding it. The green tops of the city's palm trees suddenly had a dark sensation to them, as the traveling sun's rays escaped only through the openings their long leaves provided. Although he wouldn't admit it, Sonic couldn't help but think, "Man, this is almost as beautiful as my sneaks'....."
"Sonic!" Came a voice, a few feet directly behind the hedgehog's spines. Just as he turned around, pink arms engulfed his neck and a head rested on his peach-colored chest. "Oh Sonic, I missed you SOOOOO much!" Said the same voice, this time more lovingly. The fragrance of sweet honey surrounded the air, as Sonic tried to pull away from the bear hug. "Doh man, what's a hedgehog gotta do ta' gain a little independence!?" "Aren't you happy to see me, Sonic?" Amy questioned with a happy tone. "Yeah, mondo contento...." Sonic managed to choke out, trying desperately to escape the torture. "I knew you'd be happy! That's why I decided to tag along for awhile!" Sonic's mouth dropped in fear of the horror. Tails stood laughing in the background. "We're gonna have so much fun!" Amy exclaimed happily. "We can hang out together, go to the movies, find you a nice suit for our future wedding, and some shoes even YOU would like!" Amy sounded very excited to see her idol again. It always made her happy to be in his presence, he just didn't feel the same way about her...

"Gaaahhhh....hate to break it to ya, Amy..." Sonic said hesitantly. "But it's JUICE TIME!!!" With that, Sonic grabbed Tails' wrist and sped off, leaving Amy in a whirl of blue wind, skirt and hair gliding with the current, practically pulling her along with it.

Amy was left deserted, with nobody to accompany her. Sonic had broken her heart once again. Why she even bothered with him was engulfed in mystery. But still, she never gave up. She'd never met anyone like him. She never met anyone with an ego so strong, and a dream of freedom and peace so big before. He was the type to never admit his feelings for anyone. Like his heart was hidden beneath his skin. Life was never an open book while he was around, nore was it a locked journal either. His true feelings were mysteriously hidden inside him. Though they were always let out for everyone to see.

His love for Tails was revealing as the ocean's blue, and his love for freedom and speed was shown by the way he expressed himself and acted around others. By the way he talked so sarcastically when something dumb was going on. By the way he rolled his eyes when Tails said something that's more obvious than he is a hedgehog. By the way he tapped his foot and walked around and checked his watch impatiently when waiting was the only option. His heart was a challenge to receive. This is what kept Amy's love for him so strong. And this, is what keeps her following his trail whenever she could. His heart was her's. And he knew it. He just kept it hidden, just like all the rest.

"Sooonnnniiiicccccc!!! When are we gonna stop!?" Tails yelled at the top of his lungs, desperate for the speeding hedgehog to hear above the wind's blowing noises. To his surprise, Sonic stopped. They were back at the beach, where his beach chair lay lifeless. "Man, I thought the guys were supposed to be the stalkers..." Sonic said, panting. "I thought you'd never stop. My fur was getting puffy..." "When's that girl gonna give up? This hedgehog's WAY too cool for her!" "Why do ya say that? All she wants is 'Hedgehog Perfection' after all!" Tails said in a smart-tone, laughing at his joke afterwards. "Lose it Tails, or I'll........WHAT!?" Sonic stopped short. Confused at the sight before him.
"Sonic! It's the Floating Island!" Tails yelled, pointing to the sky. "You're right, T-2!" As the duo looked toward the sky, gravity did its job, and pulled the crusty island down to the ocean. Once it hit the depths, an enormous tidal wave descended from it, heading straight for the beach. "C'mon Duce, we gotta jam before we end up desperate as Amy!" Sonic grabbed Tails' wrist and ran toward the street, pushing the sand back behind him. "Oh man, don't ya hate it when ya get sand in your sneaks!?" Sonic said to Tails. "That's why I'd rather fly!" Tails yelled back.

"Man! Either that knuckle-head's got 'imself a girlfriend, or he just plain STINKS at guarding! Hold on to your socks, Tails! We're goin' warp- seven!!" Immediately, Sonic made a U-Turn and picked up the pace. Going faster by the second, he ran toward the water, barely stopped for a spin dash, and dashed across the ocean blue in a Sonic-Spin.

"Whoa...." The echidna mumbled, rubbing his head with one hand, pulling himself up with the other. "The emerald!" He exclaimed, hardly taking any time to stand up properly, gliding away swiftly as a winged hawk.

"What happened!?" Charmy asked no one in particular, buzzing around Mighty from leg to forehead. "Oh man.... I have no clue..." Mighty answered, slowly pulling himself to his feet. "C'mon! We gotta get things straight before Knuckles gets back!" Charmy warned in his usual short-toned voice.

"Too late." Came a voice out of nowhere. "Little by little, Espio's figure appeared on the bark of a nearby tree. "You morons blew it! Ol' Red- head's on his way here right now!" Espio said with a grin, pointing his thumb backwards in the direction Knuckles was coming from. "What're you smiling about!? You're just as busted as we are!" Mighty shot back. "No, I'm supposed to be a lookout. You guys were supposed to guard the emerald! Not me!" "Well if you were a better lookout, you would've seen this coming!" Espio clenched his fist. "What're you saying!? That I stink as a lookout!? That I'm not good enough for you!?" "That's exactly what I'm saying!" "Well I suggest you watch your mouth!" "Oh yeah!? Make me!" Mighty had a smirk on his face. Espio could no longer control his temper, and fired a punch at the threatening armadillo.

Mighty blocked the punch and aimed one of his own. Espio ducked and flipped backward, away form Mighty, and charged at him horn-first. Charmy grabbed Mighty's hand and pulled the armadillo into the air with him. "Hey! What're you doing!?" Mighty exclaimed, struggling to get free. "Ending all this nonsense!" Charmy yelled back. "ENOUGH!!!"

All three stopped short, turning their heads in the direction the voice came from. Each gulped in fear at the sight before them. "What....happened?" Knuckles asked with his upper teeth clenching on the ones below them, causing his voice to sound alot angrier than usual. His fist was raised in front of him, allowing the sun to give his sharp knuckles a glaring shine. "I-I-I-It wasn't our fault, we didn't even see it coming..." Mighty started with a sweatdrop running down his cheek. "Yeah, Knuckles. It was so fast, there was no way we could've been able to stop it." Charmy backed him up. "Wasn't my fault, I was a lookout, and I didn't see anything, so there's no way I could've prevented it from coming." Espio said, leaning on a tree while chewing relentlessly on a toothpick.

"Besides, it was Vec's turn to guard.....HEY! Where is Vector anyway!?" All four hurried to the room where the Master Emerald stood. Vector the Crocodile was indeed on guard, he just wasn't doing any guarding. Instead, he was dancing the night away, singing along with the music invading his ears. As usual, his walkman was strapped to his belt with the headphones comfortably covering the whole in both his ears. He never seamed picky as to what kind of music he was listening to, and from the way he was dancing, the four guessed it was disco.

".................think there's any hope he saw who took it?" Mighty asked. "Not a chance..." Charmy answered. Eventually, the four viewers got annoyed at the performance. "Allow me" Mighty said, rolling his eyes. He then walked up to the Disco Croc, reached out, and pulled the headphones off his head. "YO! Gimme my phones, Bones!" Vector turned around to see the angry faces of his comrads. "Yo...what's goin' down?"

Knuckles couldn't stand any more stupidity. He stomped out, leaving his team behind him. The Chaotix watched as their leader left them in the dust. They felt ashamed. Knuckles would usually take all the matters into his own hands, and the Chaotix would have to convince him to give them a part in the situation. Knuckles worked day and night as the guardian of the Floating Island, hardly getting the chance to lie down and rest from all his duties. It was very rare that Knuckles asked them to do him a favor, and when he finally did, they let him down. They felt like failiours. And so they were.

Charmy was the first to retaliate from the sorrow. "Hey Knuckles! Wait!" He yelled as he flew ahead of the others. Mighty followed, Vector and Espio right behind him.

Knuckles turned around in a fury. "WHAT!!!???" he exclaimed, leaving one to wonder whether that was a question or not. Charmy stopped short "Ehhmmmnnnggg......we just wanted to say we're sorry and...we wanna help you get the emerald back...." Charmy was sweating furiously. "Yeah, Boss. It was our fault all this happened, and we wanna help you get it back!" Mighty said in a 'pro' tone. "You're sorry? You're SORRY!? Do you imbossils realize what you've done!?" Knuckles' eyes were red with anger. Mighty backed away, while the others just awaited to be punished. "Because of you, I have FAILED my people! My ancestors will now see me as the guardian who let this island fall! The Master Emerald is NOT just a power source, it's a treasure to all my people! Every being on this island looks at the Master Emerald as a god who keeps them away from all the dangers of the land! If it were to be stolen, the guardian would be blamed! Now they'll look upon me as...." Knuckles burried his face in his gloves. "...a failior..."

Mighty and Charmy were looking at the ground, now realizing how much pain they've caused their leader. Not physically, but emotionally. Vector once again had his headphones on, but was listening to Knuckles' lecture as well. Espio just leaned on a wall, crossed his arms and chewed on another toothpick. "Wasn't my fault. I was just a lookout." He reminded the others.

"NO!" Knuckles shot back at the tempered chameleon. "You're all to blame equally!" Espio glanced at the red echidna, awaiting to find out why he was to blame. "You're all part of the same team! You're the world famous Chaotix! Not a bunch of ignoramuses joined together to form some stupid pop band! Anything Vector does wrong, you're ALL to blame! Anytime Espio can't control his temper, you're ALL to blame!" Mighty and Charmy continued to stare at the ground. Espio shrugged, careless as to whatever Knuckles had to say. Vector slowly turned his headphones off, realizing just how much he let everyone down.

"You guys are a team! Not only that, you're best friends! Practically life partners! You're there for the island, AND each other, all day every day! That's what makes you a team! That's why you haven't given up on Epio's carelessness! Cause you're a team! That's why you haven't kicked Vector out 'cause he's always dancin' away while you're about to get your behinds kicked! Cause you're a team! And in case you haven't noticed, you all care deeply for each other! No matter how much you tick each other off, you've ALWAYS managed to stay together as the Chaotix!" The four team members looked at one another, realizing just how close they are to one another. Knuckles was right. They were practically family. They just hadn't realized it until now.

"No...." Knuckles mumbled all of a sudden. The others listened on, awaiting their leader's next words. "This is MY fault." The depressed echidna sat on a step just below the one Mighty was sitting on. "It's my job as guardian of this island to protect the Master Emerald. I shouldn't have left the job to you. I should've been here instead of sleeping in the wilderness..." "Aw c'mon, Knux..." Mighty put his hand on Knuckles' shoulder. "You're only flesh and bone. You need to sleep every now and then." Mighty tried to cheer him up. "No, my job is to guard the Floating Island, not to doze off and let any possible danger slip through my claws. I should've been there. I shouldn't have left the island to you. This is MY island, and it's my job as the guardian to protect it by any means necessary. Sleep is NOT an option!" Knuckles sounded angrier by the second. "Everybody needs sleep. Tough tail-kickin' guardian or puny couch potato, you're always gonna need sleep." Espio finally pitched in, closing his eyes as he talked with his arms crossed while leaning his back on the wall.

Knuckles stood up and started to walk ahead. "Hey...wh-where ya goin'?" Charmy asked as he lifted himself from his spot next to Mighty. "To find the Master Emerald." Knuckles answered, not stopping to turn around and face his crew. "We can help ya!" Mighty exclaimed. "NO!" They all backed away at once. "You guys are staying here to guard the island." "Knuckles turned around to face them. "Now I'm asking you as a leader and as a friend. Please, guard my island and keep it safe. At least until I get back."
He looked at a pair of footprints, which somehow looked familiar to him. They seemed to be from somebody wearing boots, and they ended right in the middle of a dirt setting. Knuckles looked up and clenched his fists. "I'll get that bat girl if it's the last thing I do!" He wasted no time to get their reply, and floated off into the night sky.
"Well....'tleast we didn't get any punishments..." Charmy broke the silence. The others just glared at him. "Eh-heh....." Charmy sweatdropped.

Meanwhile, Sonic and Tails were well on their way towards Mushroom Valley, Sonic's feet moving swiftly before, during, and after each step, Tails in mid-air with a brownish-orange spinning propeller above his back. "Hey Tails, it's a long way to the Hidden Palace! You sure ya can last the whole way!?" "Of coarse I can! If I can keep up with you, I can do anything!" Tails smiled at Sonic, and the blue blur couldn't help but smirk back.

Together, they dodged trees, quicksand, loads of giant mushrooms, and even a few over-sized ponds. Sonic ran above most of the watery depths, but Tails had to air lift him once in awhile, since Sonic sometimes felt a bit awkward when it came to water. It was a little known fact, but Sonic was indeed afraid of water. It seemed that anything he couldn't run on, he didn't like. It also left him wet whenever it touched him, and hedgehogs hate it when their spines get wet. Especially this hedgehog, since he didn't look good when wet.

Once in the middle of the Mushroom Valley, Tails was getting tired, panting for breath every time he ex-haled. Sonic however, was moving swiftly as usual, glad to be free and filled with excitement as he practically broke through the wind with every precious step. Tails couldn't help but feel fascinated by watching his companion do what he loves most. With his gloved hands following him loosely behind his body, being pushed back by the wind caused by his rapid pace. Peach arms barely noticeable compared to his dark blue body under the shade of the giant mushrooms around him. His well-shaped spines suited him well, blessing him with a look no other creature has ever managed to obtain. Although not a part of his body, his red, white, and yellow sneakers shined beautifully along with his emerald green eyes. Tails always wondered how all these small details made Sonic such a unique character, and how such small features gave him such unimaginable figure.

Sonic was indeed different. Special in every way. His unique personality made him quite unpredictable, although sometimes one could know exactly what he was thinking at a specific time, or where he was at a specific place. His humungous ego made him quite conceited, but for some reason, it wasn't in a bad way. It just showed how proud he was to be himself. A hedgehog. A hero.
His way of life was different as well. He didn't have a home. He had no rules or regulations or deadlines. He was Free was the only word that described his way of living. Sonic couldn't remember the last time he was in an apartment. The world was his domain. He ran through it freely, doing whatever he wants, whenever he wants. It meant alot to him, though he never really talked about it. With no land, he couldn't run. With no air, he couldn't feel the breeze he loves so much. The outdoor world gave him everything he wanted. That's why he strived to protect it. That's why he chose to be a hero. He didn't do it for fame or popularity. He did it to keep the freedom the world had blessed him with. To keep the air fresh, to keep the wind blowing, to keep the grass green, and to keep his way of life the way it was. Sonic loved his life, and the way it was being lived. He couldn't stand the thought of it changing for the worst, and he didn't know of any way it could possibly change for the better. He liked it just the way it was. And he would never let anyone or anything cause it to shatter.

Tails' thoughts were interrupted by a big thud. Sonic was sent sailing into a nearby tree. "SONIC!!!" Tails yelled as he quickly went to his partner's aid. Sonic rubbed his head. "Man, either I was just knocked off my sneaks', or I've been eatin' WAY too many chilidogs!" They both looked in the direction the hit came from.

In the moonlight stood Knuckles, fists up with the spikes pointing toward the intruders. Sonic quickly stood up, ready for a brawl. "Yo, didn't your mama ever tell ya to be curdious to guests!?" Sonic yelled, angry about the attack he just went through. "No time for games, hedgehog! I want you off my island immediately!" The threatening echidna yelled. "Big surprise, Knot-head! You hate company even more than I hate stop signs!" Sonic glared at the echidna, awaiting his comeback.

"What're you doing here anyway!? Didn't we make a deal!? You're not supposed to come here without giving me notice!" Knuckles reminded. "We saw the island fall, and we wanted to check out what happened and see if you were allright or needed our help!" Tails finally got involved. "Yeah, but looks like SOMEONE isn't very thankful! Geez, a no thank you would've been enough, but a sock in the nose is WAY over the hill!" Sonic crossed his arms. "C'mon, Tails! Let's go find someone with a little gratitude!"

Sonic grabbed Tails' wrist and prepared to speed off, but was forced to a stop by Knuckles' words. "Sonic! Wait!" Knuckles yelled as he motioned them to stop, desperate for the blue hedgehog to stop in his tracks. "Yeah!? What!? I'm waaaiiiitttiiinnngggg....." Sonic crossed his arms and tapped his foot. Knuckles hated to ask, but he had no choice. "Sonic, I need you to find a Chaos Emerald and bring it to me." "Huh? What for?" Sonic asked, interested in the task. "If I can get my hands on a Chaos Emerald, I can use it to find the Master Emerald." "How so?"

"Well," Knuckles explained, "According to my ancestors, the Master Emerald shares a mysterious link with each of the seven existing Chaos Emeralds. It has a mind of it's own, and if it's somehow removed from its shrine, it'll know and want to return to its rightful place. Don't you get it, Sonic? The emerald knows I'm the protector of this island and the emerald itself. If it senses that I have one of the seven Chaos Emeralds, it'll use the link it has between them and lead me straight to it!" "And why're you depending on ME for this? Can't ya find an emerald yourself?" Sonic asked, unwilling to take the task. "Because even though I don't have any link to it, as guardian, I have the power to sense the Master Emerald at all times. Link or no link, I can't waste time looking for a Chaos Emerald when I have to restore my island. You're the only one I can count on to find a Chaos Emerald within three days. I'm not gonna beg you, Sonic. I'm just asking for your help. If you don't want to, don't. I have no time to argue. If you decide to help, I'll be around the Dry Lagoon."

With that, Knuckles floated off into the air, disappearing between the clouds and the night sky. "So....are we gonna find an emerald for him?" "You betcha, lil' bro!" Sonic nudged Tails, following with a few brotherly laughs and punches. Noticing time wasn't on his side, Sonic sped off, clueless as to the adventure that awaited him in his path.