‘Handing over the fake emerald, I can kill two birds with stone,’ Sonic thought as he pulled out the yellow gem he was holding. He looked up at Tails for a brief moment as the fox nodded in acknowledgement.
“Put the emerald down right there and back off!” Dr. Robotnik said from his Egg-Walker, pointing at a circular spot on the floor with the gun in his hand. Beside him, Amy Rose cowered in fear.
Sonic smirked as he walked slowly up towards Eggman. “You’ve turned into a big-time villain, doctor.” Sonic was just about to set down the emerald as Eggman pressed a quick series of buttons on his control panel, laughing. “Whoa!” Sonic yelled as an escape pod suddenly came down and trapped him.
“You thought you could trick me with that fake emerald, didn’t you?” Eggman mocked.
“So… how did you know it wasn’t the real one?” Tails asked, leaning forward in the Tornado mech.
“Tails!” Sonic yelled, trying to stop him, but it was too late.
“Because you just told me, fox boy!” Robotnik said, laughing as Tails face quickly took on a dumb struck expression. “Now for a little space ride,” Eggman said, redirecting his focus back to Sonic. “The capsule clears the colony… BAM!”
Sonic took one last look at his friends. “I’m counting on you Tails!” he said to his young friend, frozen in shock. “And Amy, take care of yourself,” he said softly to the pink hedgehog on the verge of tears.
“Farewell Sonic the Hedgehog!” Eggman proclaimed as he pressed the capsule launch button, sending the escape pod blasting from the colony.
As the pod shot closer and closer to the planet, Amy look out of the window in fear and sadness, calling, “Sonic…”
In the capsule, Sonic recalled Tails’ words that the fake emerald had the same wavelength and properties of the Chaos Emeralds. ‘But, can I really do it?’ he thought.
The timer on the bomb inside the capsule quickly reached zero, and it exploded, flames and debris flying out into the great vacuum of space. “Farewell Sonic… my admirable adversary,” Robotnik said, watching the explosion, as Amy broke down into tears and collapsed onto the floor. Robotnik turned back around to face Tails. “Now, we have some unfinished business to take care of. If you give me the real Emerald, I’ll release you both. You have my promise!”
“Sonic…” Tails said quietly to himself.
“What?” Eggman asked.
“Sonic has asked me for the first time to do something for him. I won’t let him down. I won’t give up!”
“Do you really think you can beat me?” Eggman asked as Tails locked on to him with his laser sight. Tails launched a cannon shot, and Eggman attempted to maneuver out of its way. The shot however caught up to him, exploding on the back of his walker. “What?” he yelled as his mech shook. He fired a quick shot at Tails, and he grunted in anger as the laser hit.
Tails aimed for one of the green canisters floating up through the center of the room, just as Robotnik passed it. He fired, and the canister exploded, the flames and debris smashing against Eggman. He quickly turned to face Tails, yelling, “That’s it! You’re no match for this, Tails!” The front end of the Egg-Walker changed, and suddenly a giant laser shot out of it. Tails jumped, activating the mech’s hover boosters, but the edge of the laser caught him as he fell.
Tails targeted Eggman as he checked the Tornado’s status. “No, the Tornado’s power is failing! I have to hurry this up.” He launched the laser blast as Robotnik’s laser slowed down, and he didn’t have time to dodge it. Tails, in the mean time, ran to the other edge of the room.
“Alright, no more games!” Eggman proclaimed, pressing a series of buttons on his dashboard. Two large missile launchers fanned out from the back of his walker. “Take this!” Suddenly dozens of miniature missiles launched from Robotnik’s mech. Tails kicked the Tornado into high gear, constantly moving to try and dodge them as they exploded just behind him. Eggman was moving in on Tails, and carelessly passed the center of the room as another canister began to rise. Tails quickly targeted it and fired. Eggman didn’t have time to move, and the canister exploded just behind him. The Egg-Walker began to explode and smoke, falling to the ground as Eggman muttered to himself, “I can’t lose to Tails…”
* * * * *
Moments earlier, Shadow stood by a window in the central area of the ARK. He looked out as Sonic’s capsule exploded. “I guess he was just a regular hedgehog after all.” He stood up from leaning against the wall, and walked out of the room.
* * * * *
Rouge walked up to the panel where the Chaos Emeralds were stored in the Eclipse Cannon. “Legend has it that when all seven Chaos Emeralds are collected, the power creates a miracle,” she said to herself. “I have six of them. They’re mine, all mine.” She began to move towards them, when a voice stopped her.
“I don’t think so!” Shadow said as he walked into the room.
“Shadow…” Rouge said as she turned around.
“So that was your plan from the very beginning, huh? Or was it a direct order from the President? Now I know who you are. You’re the government spy, Rouge the bat, aren’t you?” He turned to her, a look of triumph on his face.
“So you did your homework, is that it? I’d say that’s an invasion of privacy.”
“I could say the same about you.”
“Hmm! It looks like things aren’t quite going your way, but since my job is done… I thought it was time to take what’s mine and get out of this place.”
“You are one pathetic creature!”
“Hmm, look who’s talking? What about you?” Rouge jumped off of the platform surrounding the control panel and began to slowly drift to the ground, a large manila folder, bulging with papers, in her hand. “Here are the results of the research project called “The Ultimate Life Form.” But, if this picture is of the real ultimate life form named, Shadow…” Rouge landed on the ground, waving a piece of paper bearing the picture of a large lizard creature in front of her face. “Then exactly who, or what, is standing in front of me?”
Suddenly a crackling noise came from Shadow’s walkie-talkie. He picked it up, and as expected Dr. Robotnik’s voice came from the other end. “This is Dr. Eggman. I have all seven chaos emeralds. Shadow, I’m heading for the Cannon Control room. Get over to this research lab and take care of these two. There’s not much time before the cannon fires again.”
“Yes, Doctor,” Shadow said, putting the walkie-talkie away. He turned back to Rouge. “If you want to live, leave the Chaos Emeralds where they are! The fake emerald should be enough for you.” He turned to leave.
“Do you actually believe that you’re the real Shadow?”
“Even your memories might not be real, you know.”
“Even if my memories are not real, it’s still me, Shadow. And I will fulfill my promise to Maria. That’s the only thing that matters to me now.” He left the room, running down the halls.
* * * * *
Meanwhile, Knuckles was also running through the corridors of the space colony. “I’m getting these weird feelings from the Master Emerald. Something is definitely not right. I have to find Sonic and the others, wherever they are.”
* * * * *
Tails looked at his own walkie-talkie, and murmured. “Sonic, I did it…” He looked downward, dropping the walkie-talkie, knowing there wouldn’t be an answer.
“Yes, well, you certainly slowed the Doctor down, but you haven’t stopped anything,” Shadow said as he strode into the room. “Looks like that faker died in vain…”
“You take that back!” Tails yelled, jumping out of the Tornado and running forward, grabbing Shadow at the neck. Amy stood behind him, holding her hammer.
Shadow merely smiled, looking down at the young duo in front of him. “Do you really think you can beat me? Chaos Spear!” Shadow flung Tails away, a blast of yellow Chaos energy shooting from his hand. Tails skidded along the ground, but got up quickly, fiery tears of anger in his eyes. He grabbed a large wrench from the Tornado and charged Shadow, swinging it like a madman. Shadow simply brought his hand up, grabbing onto the tool and twisting it from Tails’ grasp. “You’ll need more than this to take down the Ultimate Lifeform!”
“Then how’s this!” Knuckles yelled as he punched Shadow in the back of the head. He was stunned and flew forward, crashing into a collection of control panels at the edge of the room. He attempted to stand up, but collapsed and slid along the panel to the ground, unconscious. Knuckles turned to Tails and Amy. “Hey you guys… where’s Sonic?”
Tails and Amy both looked away, and Tails soon looked back. “Sonic’s…”
Suddenly an alarm began to sound around them. Red light’s flashed, and Robotnik’s voice soon came over the speakers. “Shadow! Forget about those brats and get to the control room! Something’s gone wrong!”
“What do you think is going on?” Amy asked.
“I don’t know, but we’d better get out of here!” Knuckles yelled, running for the door. “Let’s go guys!”
Tails jumped in the Tornado along with Amy, and the three quickly blasted through the halls, trying to find a safe way out.
* * * * *
“Aghh, what’s going on?” Eggman yelled, trying to make sense of the various warnings appearing on the screen. He knew the cannon must have fired, but he had no idea why the computer was acting like this.
Rouge put her hand to her ear as a call came in from earth. “Rouge, what the hell’s going on up there?!” a G.U.N. commander said. The signal was faint and filled with static, and various cries of terror were clearly audible in the background.
“I don’t know. Dr. Eggman fired the cannon, but all these warnings and sirens are going off,” Rogue said, her worry about what was going on below clearly showing.
“It might… omethin… o do wi… ARK… fall…” The signal broke completely, leaving Rouge with nothing but static.
“It can’t be… Doctor, quick, can you check what our altitude is?”
“Yes, I should be able to…” Eggman said as he punched a series of commands into the computer. “No, that can’t be! The Ark is falling at an alarming rate!” Robotnik began to enter more commands into the computer, when suddenly a video image came up onto the screen. The image was grainy, but you could make out the form of an old man, clearly worn down by extreme anger, driven to insanity. A light swung above him, illuminating his features. Eggman’s face showed his surprise as he realized whom the video was of. “It’s my grandfather… Gerald Robotnik!”
* * * * *
“There has to be a way out of here! Another rocket, a transporter, something!” Tails said quickly, looking over a map of the colony. The trio stopped however, as a sound clip began to play over the speakers. “Who is that?”
“This, is a death sentence, for every human being on Earth!” Gerald began, his voice coarse and broken. “If my calculations are correct, the space colony ARK will impact the Earth in twenty-three minutes, sixty-two seconds.”
“We’re falling to Earth?” Amy proclaimed as Gerald paused.
“All of you will be destroyed, along with your beloved planet Earth. I plan to give you a taste of my revenge, one all the seven Chaos Emeralds are collected. Once I initiate this program, it cannot be disabled. All of you ungrateful humans, who took everything away from me, will feel my loss, and despair!”
“Is there anything else you want to say?” a voice said.
“No,” Gerald replied.
“Ready… fire!” the other voice said. The audio, and the video playing elsewhere on the ARK and around the world, stopped as Gerald was executed. The ARK suddenly began to shake more violently.
“The vibrations are getting stronger! We have to find a way out of here!” Knuckles yelled.
“I’ve got it!” Tails proclaimed. “Robotnik built a transporter from here to one of his bases! We can use that! Let’s get moving!”
* * * * *
“No, my Grandfather can’t really mean to destroy us,” Eggman said as the video ended. “Rrrgh, we have to get out of here!” He jumped off of the control panel platform and began to run for the door.
“Doctor, what about the Chaos Emeralds?” Rouge asked as Robotnik ran past her.
“Forget them for now! Better to survive than to go down with them.” Eggman continued to run, headed for the transporter room. Rouge headed after him.
“He’s either escaped already or is somewhere on the ARK. I’m sure we don’t need to worry about him. Now let’s go!”
* * * * *
Tails, Amy, and Knuckles had reached the door of the transporter room. They attempted to open the door, but it was locked. “It must use a password. But I don’t think I’ll be able to crack it in time,” Tails said as numbers and letters flew across the screen in front of him.
“I’ve got your password right here!” Knuckles said, putting on his shovel claws. He lined up his fist, then punched the door, his knuckle spurs sliding into the groove in the middle. He twisted them around a bit, then put his fingers in, pulling against the door. He strained, sweat breaking out over his body. Eventually the doors made a slight movement, then with one more burst of strength, they flew apart.
The three entered the room, Tails quickly turning the transporter on. It began to power up, just as Eggman and Rouge came running down the hall. Tails spotted him, and once again his rage was ignited. “Eggman! You’re gonna pay!” He jumped out of the Tornado, but Knuckles caught him, holding him back inside the transporter. “Let me go Knuckles!”
“No! What’s important now is to get off of here! You can get revenge on Robotnik as much as you want later,” Knuckles said, as the three of them began to fizzle away. “He’ll certainly be getting it.” And with that the trio was transported back to the planet.
“Hmph, foolish fox boy. Let’s go Rouge.” Eggman walked into the room, setting the transporter to an alternate location, not wanting to run into those three again.
“But what about Shadow?” Rouge asked again as she walked up to the transporter.
“Like I said, he’ll be fine. He is the Ultimate Lifeform after all.”
‘I certainly hope so…’ Rouge thought as her and Robotnik were transported away from the ARK.
* * * * *
The ARK was beginning to enter the earth’s atmosphere. The propulsion stabilizers broke off, flying into space. As the outer edges began to rapidly heat up, some sections exploded entirely, chunks of rock and metal bursting into flame.
Shadow stirred, sitting up from the floor. He looked out the window, seeing the earth rushing up to meet him. “Maria…” he said as glass shattered all around him.