Shadow tries to stop someone who's taken over his world, but can a person of Shadow's temperament really stop an Infinite threat?
Shadow the Hedgehog opened his eyes. Last he could remember was being hit from behind by something heavy, then it all went black.
Some kind of weird cobalt hedgehog with no mouth loomed over Shadow. "Oh, how ironic fate can be," he said. "Didn't I warn you of this some time ago?"
"Who are you?" said Shadow. He tried to stand up, but smacked against a clear wall and fell back down. "And why am I always getting stuck in these damn stasis pods?"
"My name is Mephiles," said the hedgehog, "and you can open that pod from the inside."
Shadow punched the wall that was the front of the pod, making it fall off. "No need," said Shadow. "Now what are you here for?"
"Shouldn't you thank me for waking you up?" said Mephiles, sounding amused. Shadow distinctly noticed the gap between the ends of Mephiles's legs and the floor, the gap that his feet should have occupied if he had any. "It's been 125 years, Shadow."
"What the hell?" Shadow exclaimed.
Mephiles put a hand over Shadow's mouth. "You don't want him to hear you," he said.
Shadow pushed off Mephiles's hand. "Who's 'he'?"
"Infinite," said Mephiles. "Someone known to exist by few, but who controls the many via his army of—pardon the pun—apparently Infinite size."
"Never heard of this jerk," said Shadow, folding his arms.
"Clearly," said Mephiles. "You've been out of the loop for over a century. Naturally, you wouldn't know of someone who only rose to power within the last decade."
"All right, enough of the code-talk," said Shadow. "So I've been in stasis for this time. Someone probably found out about me fighting Iblis for the 50 years since his release and decided that locking me up was a good strategy. Well, it's not gonna work one more second if I have anything to say about it. Where's this Infinite so I can go kick his butt?"
Mephiles shrugged. "Finding him is the easy part," he said, "once you've been captured, of course. Infinite's using his security cameras to watch everyone, everywhere, every day—"
"'I DON'T GIVE A DAMN ABOUT WHERE INFINITE'S LOOKING!" Shadow yelled.
"Well, you've just guaranteed that you'll get captured in the next few seconds," said Mephiles, fading into the wall (an easy task, given the dark color of his fur). "Do try to expose him. Your job is just to make everyone know that he exists so that someone can kill him, not to kill him yourself."
Moments later, a group of four familiar people came into view. "All right, pals, let's put this jerk back where he belongs!" said the leader.
Shadow blinked at the group. "I don't believe it," he said. "Sonic, you were found dead in a field 50 years ago at the site of Iblis's release. Rouge, you were taken out five years later when Iblis smashed the G.U.N. helicopter you were in. Knuckles, you got obliterated when another Angel Island fell out of the sky and smashed the Island with all the Emeralds on it. And Tails, not only were you reported missing in action right after Sonic died, but HOW THE HELL ARE YOU STILL EIGHT YEARS OLD? It's been nearly two centuries! What happened to your age, huh?"
"Looks like this one's gotten sassy," said Rouge, smirking. "Missed me much, Shadow?"
"Your dialogue's wrong," said Shadow. "You're recycling old lines. Shape up."
"Recycle my fists!" said Knuckles, delivering a blow towards Shadow's head. Shadow dodged to the side fast enough to make Knuckles punch the stasis pod instead, making a satisfying smashing noise as he hit the interior panels. Shadow took advantage of this to hit Knuckles in the back, making him fall over and…disintegrate?
"Oh yeah, that does it!" said Sonic, charging at Shadow. "No one disintegrates my friends!"
"If it helps," said Shadow, launching into the air with his jet shoes, "it was an accident." Turning off the jets, Shadow tried to drop back down, but was grabbed by Rouge.
"Nuh-uh," she said. "You're not getting away from me this time."
Shadow looked her in the eyes. The pupils seemed weirdly red and cubical. "Rouge, if you know what's good for you, you'll drop me. Now."
"You asked," said Rouge, smirking again as she dropped Shadow, then kicked him in the head. Shadow went flying and was bounced back by Sonic. On the return trajectory, Shadow rolled into a ball and launched himself at Rouge, punching her as she moved to the side and making her…also disintegrate.
"Tails!" yelled Sonic. "Analyze his energy signatures!"
"I'm trying, Sonic, but he's just too fast!" said Tails.
"If only I had Omega here," said Shadow, dodging around to avoid Sonic's strikes.
"Yeah, and what good would that do you, buddy?" said Sonic, slowly catching up to Shadow. "All that guy ever did was talk about 'obliterating' things and fire rounds out of his arm cannons. Nothing that could match my speed."
"Let this match your speed!" said Shadow, suddenly dodging behind Tails. Holding up Tails between him and Sonic, he started to speak, but the air was knocked out of him when Sonic charged at Shadow, launching him backwards…by disintegrating Tails and hitting Shadow.
Shadow flew backwards and slammed into a building. "Faker," he said as he slid down the wall. "You have no honor, no friendship, no morality. You're a zero."
"Zero like my Chaos Emeralds?" said Sonic, pulling out seven Chaos Emeralds from behind him.
"Woah, hold it!" said Shadow standing up. "Those were destroyed when Angel Island got smashed! You literally just pulled those things out of hammerspace!"
"Does it matter?" said Sonic, Chaos Emeralds floating around him. As they zapped him, he went yellow. "I can still defeat you with them. Chaos…Spear!" As Shadow rolled to the side, a yellow spear of energy shot past him, hitting the wall behind where he'd been and denting it.
"It's real," said Shadow under his breath, "but they disintegrate? What is thi—" While he spoke, Sonic slammed him into a wall.
"Chaos…Blast!" said Sonic, forcing Shadow into the ground with an energy wave, then pummeling him repeatedly before Shadow could resist. Within a few seconds, Shadow was barely awake, his vision blurry.
"Damn you," Shadow muttered before he lost consciousness.
Shadow woke up being dragged by Sonic. Judging from their location, it had only been a few seconds. As Shadow looked around, he saw Knuckles walk over to a panicking civilian. "It's OK," said Knuckles. "We've got this all under control."
"I just disintegrated Knuckles," muttered Shadow. "Now he's back. What is this hell?"
"You know," remarked Sonic, smacking Shadow into a wall as he dragged Shadow along, "if you used your moves more and your mouth less, you wouldn't be as prone to getting beaten up."
Shadow grunted and tried to raise his fist, but couldn't quite muster the energy to do so.
Sonic dragged Shadow into a building, up three flights of stairs, and into an office. By the time he arrived, Shadow felt like he could stand, but didn't see a point. Yet.
Sonic dropped Shadow in front of a masked jackal. Shadow noted that the jackal's mask's two eye-holes had red-tinted visors, making the whites of his eyes look red. "Yeah, because red eyes are so scary," he remarked out loud.
"Such temerity," said the jackal in an echoing voice.
"What do you want me to do with him, boss?" said Sonic.
"You're Infinite, aren't you," said Shadow.
"Oh," said the jackal, laughing in a distorted way. "So you know. Well, now I'll have to kill you. But first, I want you to understand my power."
"Your 'Infinite' power," Shadow sneered.
"Indeed," said Infinite. "Let me show you what I really mean, so you won't die satisfied that you're better than me."
With a snap of Infinite's fingers, Sonic disintegrated. Another snap, and a whole army of Sonics appeared. "Do you understand now, child?" said Infinite. "All those people you fought, all those heroes you thought back from the dead, they're not really back. These are just illusions of your former friends. I call them…Replicas. I can make as many as I want, with the powers that the real ones had, and you are powerless to stop them." Infinite waved his hand. "Finish him, Soni—"
An explosion hit near Infinite. He jumped just in time to avoid being hit by the grenade. Before Shadow could move a muscle, something grabbed him from behind. A flash of light, and everything went dark.
"Hmph," said Shadow, folding his arms as he stood up. Both moves proved he wasn't unconscious again.
"You're welcome, Shadow," said Mephiles, emerging from a nearby wall. "You know, if it weren't for us, you'd be in that proverbial afterlife that you so often invoke."
"'Us'?" said Shadow.
"Meet my friend here," said Mephiles, gesturing to a wolf in gray military attire who held a modified rifle. Shadow wouldn't have known she was there if it weren't for the lack of helmet. The peach hair was the only thing in the room that didn't blend into the dusty rafters.
It was a moment before the wolf spoke, denying Shadow's previous suspicions that she was asleep.
"Whisper," she said, raising her free hand and closing her fingers in a sign that could have been a wave or a motion to be quiet.
"I'll talk as loud as I please, thanks," said Shadow.
"It's her name, dolt," said Mephiles.
Shadow's fist was two inches away from Mephiles's face when Mephiles teleported, making Shadow fall over forwards and slide down the wall.
"At any rate," said Mephiles, "Whisper here will be a great asset to you if you feel like using the old-fashioned tactic called 'stealth' to expose Infinite."
"All I want is to take down this guy," said Shadow. "Omega-style. Blow up everything in sight and be in the thick of it when it all explodes."
"Given that Omega isn't here," said Mephiles, "it would be far easier if he doesn't know you're coming. Lowering your voice could help as well. Notice how I'm thinking everything to you, not speaking?"
Shadow looked at Mephiles. "That was completely non-obvious," he said. "Now let's just—"
Shadow didn't get time to finish his sentence. The building that they were in shook, making Shadow fall between the rafters. Before he could crash into the ceiling below, Mephiles's legs snaked around Shadow's quills and yanked him back into a seated position.
"You probably wondered what these were for, didn't you?" said Mephiles, moving his legs back into their normal position.
"No, I just thought you were a weirdo," said Shadow, making Whisper giggle slightly. "What's with the earthquakes?"
"Oh, the usual," said Mephiles.
"Iblis," said Whisper.
"He's still around?" exclaimed Shadow.
"Did you think you'd taken him down while in stasis?" said Mephiles. "No, Iblis is still active and terrorizing the civilians. That's what Infinite's Replicas of legendary heroes are for. They save the civilians from Iblis, who Infinite makes attack the city. It's quite brilliant, you know. He silently makes Iblis attack, then saves people by proxy, having everyone kept in fear while no one even knows that he exists, far less that he's the cause of their problems."
Shadow was silent for a moment. Then he spoke.
"Okay," he said, with the voice of one quickly losing his temper. "So how do we find Infinite so I can kick his butt?!?"
"Pipe down," said Whisper, feeling along the wall.
"What is it with you and always asking me to be quiet?" said Shadow.
"This is important," said Whisper, fiddling with something in the wall.
"Look," said Shadow. "I get you're probably, I don't know, blind or something 'cause you don't open your eyes and so your other senses are important, but can you–"
Shadow stopped speaking when he realized what was just opened in the wall.
"It's a pipe leading downwards," said Mephiles, doubling over as though he were laughing. "Shadow, I do believe that your foolishness has increased exponentially while in stasis, while your fuse length has decreased drastically. What a shame, don't you think?"
"Let's just go," said Shadow, climbing into the pipe after Whisper.
After a lot of following Whisper around in narrow spaces, Shadow became very frustrated.
"No, don't say it," said Mephiles. "We're approximately seven centimeters from the appropriate position, so just stay quiet and this will work."
Shadow punched the ceiling under him in frustration, making him fall through the ceiling into a chute that felt extremely hot. "What is this damn place?" Shadow yelled, looking around for a handhold.
"Oh, Shadow," said Mephiles, "I do believe you've found an entrance into Hell."
Shadow grabbed a handhold as it flashed by, making a door open down. Shadow climbed on top of it and out into a hallway, where Mephiles and Whisper were waiting for him. Shadow closed the door and turned to the others.
"Where was that?" he said.
Whisper read the label on the wall. "Incinerator," she said.
"I told you, you were seven centimeters off," said Mephiles. "Also, I believe that you have vision as well."
"Shut up," said Shadow. "At least we're in the right room now."
"Deductive reasoning skills aren't failing, I see," said Mephiles.
Shadow chose to ignore Mephiles and look around. At one end of the room, Whisper was typing something into a console on a wall next to a large closed door. At the other end, there was a nearly identical door, also shut.
Shadow went over to see what Whisper was doing. Symbols flashed across the screen.
"Code-breaking?" he said.
Whisper nodded, then abruptly said, "Cover me."
"From what?" said Shadow. "There's nothing coming—"
The door at the opposite end of the room opened. In the doorway stood Omega.
"Okay, Whisper, I take back everything I said about you," said Shadow.
Omega's arm cannons unfolded. "ANNIHILATE."
"Good, buddy," said Shadow. "Come on, take down this door and—"
"LOCKING ON TO UNWELCOME LIFEFORMS," said Omega.
"Wait, what?" said Shadow. "Omega, we're your friends!"
"I AM PROGRAMMED TO DESTROY YOU, A.R.K. EXPERIMENT SHADOW THE HEDGEHOG," said Omega.
"Oh, right," said Shadow. "You're just a Replica. I'll just take you down, then." Launching himself at Omega, Shadow tried to home in on Omega's chest to hit him. Omega twisted to swing a punch at Shadow, and Shadow hit Omega's shoulder.
Shadow expected Omega to disintegrate. He didn't expect what really happened: A piece of Omega's shoulder armor fell off and hit the floor with a resounding clatter.
"I AM NOT A REPLICA, SHADOW," said Omega, turning slowly to face the stunned Shadow, who was now behind where Omega was before. "I HAVE BEEN PROGRAMMED TO DESTROY ALL THREATS TO THE UNIVERSE, AND YOU ARE A PRIME ONE. WHY DID YOU THINK YOU WERE IN STASIS, ULTIMATE LIFEFORM?"
"Omega?" said Shadow. "How could Infinite do this to you?"
"HE DID NOT," said Omega. "I ACTED OF MY OWN VOLITION. PREPARE TO DIE, ENTITY."
Shadow resumed his usual expression. "All right, I guess I'll have to destroy you, then," he said. "Sorry, old friend, but if the world chooses to fight against me, I can't hold back."
Jumping just in time to avoid the barrage of fire that Omega launched at him, Shadow ricocheted off a wall and at Omega's head. Omega ducked, but Shadow skidded across the floor, twisted around, rolled between Omega's legs, and jumped, hitting Omega's chassis and upsetting his balance.
"ERROR! ERROR!" said Omega, firing in random directions at the ceiling as he fell over backwards. As Omega fell, Shadow punched the center of Omega's chest, making him power down. Shadow then spun Omega around and launched him at the door to make sure he was down, which coincided with the exact moment that Whisper opened the door, sending the deactivated Omega flying through the doorway, where he landed at the feet of Infinite.
"So, after all this time, you're back for more," said Infinite. "You're good, I'll give you that, but just being able to destroy your friend isn't enough to take me down. Remember how you couldn't take down the Replicas of your four friends earlier? I have that power a thousandfold. You are but an ant to me, a pitiful reflection of what you think you are. Prepare to enter eternity, worm."
Shadow looked around for assistance. Whisper was climbing into the ceiling, Mephiles was leaning against a wall, and there were no handy objects. "Damn," said Shadow.
"For the object of your demise, I present your rival, Sonic," said Infinite, summoning in a Sonic.
"Now wait a second," said Shadow, suddenly coming up with a plan. "I could take on four of your Replicas and take out three before I lost. Don't you think Sonic would need the Chaos Emeralds to beat me?" Gears were spinning in Shadow's head, ideas coming together for how he could make his plan happen. He just needed the rest of the plan.
"If you wish to end your existence more forcefully, I will accommodate you," said Infinite. Chaos Emeralds appeared in Sonic's hands.
That was when Shadow struck. Dashing at Sonic as the final Emeralds appeared, Shadow grabbed one. Muttering "Chaos…Control!", Shadow teleported himself into a building across the street from the one he was in. Infinite disintegrated the Emerald, but it was already too late. Shadow had escaped.
Or so he thought. A red hand suddenly punched open the wall in front of Shadow, then moved behind Shadow and grabbed him. The hand floated through the window frame clutching Shadow, slowly bringing him back towards the window ledge outside the room that Infinite stood in, dragging Shadow back via the hand.
Suddenly, everything clicked. The mission was only to expose Infinite, after all.
"People!" Shadow yelled, catching the attention of the people below him on street level. "The man in the tower up there is looking everywhere, all the time! He can see everything you're doing! That's how he could find me behind that wall! Is this what you want in your world?"
Infinite dropped Shadow on the window ledge outside his window as the hand disintegrated, then smashed open the window. "What a fine bluff," he said. "What do you have to prove that?"
A laser suddenly shot towards Infinite's head. Infinite twisted, then started clutching his right eye. Whipping around, he blasted the ceiling with his free hand, making Whisper fall into the room. Shadow could figure out what had happened: Whisper was aiming for a headshot and missed due to Infinite's reflexes.
"That's it," said Infinite, removing his hand. A lightning bolt-shaped eye patch had formed over the eye socket of the helmet, covering the injury. "I'm done treating you like people." Charging at Whisper with an energy sword in his hand, Infinite swung it at her, only to have it hit air as Mephiles grabbed Whisper and teleported away.
Shadow used the opportunity of this to jump off the ledge and swing in an open window a few stories down. Moving into a place where no one could see in from outside, Shadow was in the perfect place to prove his theory.
The wall burst open in front of Shadow as an enraged Infinite flew down. "You can't deny that you found me in the middle of nowhere, now, can you?" said Shadow.
"It doesn't matter who knows that I can see them!" Infinite projected. "Anyone who stands against me, wherever they are, will die, starting with you!"
Infinite flew at Shadow, making Shadow dodge to the side. Infinite swerved, barreling right at Shadow and forcing him through a wall, where Shadow fell a couple of feet down to street level. Shadow stood up, somewhat shaky from being forced through the wall, only to be forced down again and pinned down.
"Any last words?" said Infinite, making a red energy sword.
"You're exposed," said Shadow.
Infinite swung the sword towards Shadow's neck, when a light suddenly appeared and Shadow fell onto a rock. Mephiles let go of Shadow, then disappeared.
Shadow picked himself up and looked around. He could see Whisper, an older Mephiles, and an unfamiliar gold hedgehog. All around them were bits of debris and lava.
"Where are we?" said Shadow.
"You're where my 25-years-younger self dropped you," said Mephiles. "Right after the fall of Iblis and Infinite. Due to your efforts and Whisper's, some knew Infinite existed, so someone was able to take him down. You did your job well."
"Don't mention it," said Shadow. "So why here?"
Shadow heard the gold hedgehog's voice, probably in his mind again. "Well, after my brother took down Infinite and Iblis, he went off to save a dimension with some knights or something, so I'll need some helping cleaning up after Iblis and Infinite."
"All right," said Shadow. "Well, you've got my help. Let's clean up this damn place, now."
- Shadow the Hedgehog
- Mephiles the Hedgehog
- Whisper the Wolf
- Infinite the Jackal
- Various Replicas
- Gold the Hedgehog
- This story would have never existed if Crimson hadn't pointed out that Cosmic Reboot's Infinite didn't have much of a purpose in being Infinite instead of being a new fan character, reminding me of unused lore ideas surrounding Infinite's place in the timeline, which then went into this story. TL:DR; Thanks, Crimson! ^_^
- Besides Cosmic Reboot, this story ties into one other story. Let me know in the comments if you figure out which other story I'm talking about.