A door slowly creaked open, light pouring out from behind it. Manuel poked his head through, darting his eyes both ways in the darkness, which was dimly lit by his flashlight.
Usually, Manuel stuck to scouting the forest, as he was a trained survival expert. But he had an adventurous side. He was a poor boy since the day he was born; you could tell by the way he looked. His spines were long, unkempt, and filthy, which was uncommon for hedgehogs, who usually take pride in their appearance. He made ends meet by searching through abandoned buildings and hocking any valuable finds at pawn shops. This abandoned department store had some interesting things, but was mostly full of cobwebs and forgotten memories. He descended the stairs to the lowest basement, where he found rusted metal doors with a small hole ground in the middle. A sign saying Fa—h adorned the top, but was worn as if it hadn’t been seen in years. He was feeling bold, so he squeezed through the hole and came out in quite an interesting room. It looked almost like a small apartment. A large computer desk sat in the corner by a dusty brick wall.
Manuel felt something cold on the back of his head. He turned around slowly to see a GUN officer pointing a Desert Eagle at his head.
“Hands behind your head, hedgehog.” He said. Manuel slowly slid his hands behind his head. “This is a secured area, GUN personnel only!”
“Okay! Okay, I’ll leave.” Manuel said, reaching something out of his camouflage vest on his back.
“It’s too late for– Ahh!” The GUN officer felt his stomach, and the knife protruding from it.
“Things are going to get hot!” Manuel said, running into a makeshift kitchen. He saw some cabinets and a fridge. Hopefully, I could find some nice silverware to hock in there. He thought.
“That hedgehog has to be somewhere around here.” Somebody said around the corner.
“Shit!” Manuel whispered, jumping into the cabinet. He seemed to have dropped something as he climbed in.
A dozen soldiers walked around the corner into the kitchen, guns raised.
“The boss isn’t going to like this.” One of them said. Suddenly, all of the soldiers were tossed in different directions in a gorgeous burst of flames. Manuel kicked the cabinet door off and jumped out, twirling a grenade pin around his finger.
“Just like Friday night bowling.” Manuel said, chuckling. He took a second look in the cabinet for valuables. Nothing…
Maybe I’ll have better luck with that computer desk. He thought, walking into the ‘living room.’ The desk yielded a few hundred dollars and a couple of rings.
“Damn! I hit the jackpot.” He said quietly to himself as he rested a hand on the desk. A small square of the desk where he’d laid his hand sunk downward as a small square of green light poured out. The brick wall next to the desk shifted outward and a small metal door appeared in the rift between the sections of wall.
“What the…” He said, slack-jawed. He opened the door, holding the computer desk’s chair in his hand. He slammed the door shut, shoving the chair under the knob. The stairs were mesmerizing and seemed to never end. He almost ran into the door when the stairs ended. Popping the door open, he barely ducked under the bullets. There stood a black hedgehog. His hair was shaggy, long, and unkempt. He appeared to be an ace with an SMG as if he’d done this for years. The streaks in his fur were red with brown spots, obviously dirt. He looked as if someone ripped him out of a grave.
“Tell me why I shouldn’t kill you now!” The raggedy hedgehog said, pointing his gun at Manuel, who was now on the floor.
“Look, I meant no harm.” Manuel said, stuttering. “I had no idea you were down here. I was just looking through this place, searching for some valuables. I’m a poor guy, you know.”
“So you’ve been STEALING!?” the skeletal hedgehog boomed.
“Look, that’s not important. What is important is that GUN found their way here, and if you don’t help me fend them off, we’ll both–” His flashlight idly shone on two dirty glass tubes, each holding somebody. One was an echidna, slightly purple, but mostly red. The other one…It was hard to tell if he was a dog or a fox.
“–I guess I should’ve said all rather than both.”
“You must understand,” The bony hedgehog said, “I can’t leave this room. I have to make sure they are alright. I’m not even sure they’ll wake up at this point. It’s been 53 years since I froze them…”
“Why not wake them up and give them a chance to fight for their lives? They’ll die if GUN gets to them. At least give them a shot.”
The thin hedgehog pondered this briefly, and pounded a control panel. A swirling white gas flowed out of the stasis tubes. The bodies that stood like statues fell with their faces against the glass like fish out of water.
The echidna opened one eye. He stared into the dark as he slowly stood up.
The echidna punched an enormous hole in the glass tube, sending glass everywhere. He slid semicomatosely out of it.
“Dude, you will not believe the horrible night’s sleep I had.” The echidna said, sounding as if he’d had a few too many.
“At least you slept, Fausch.” The hedgehog said, hugging Fausch.
The fox started to smash through his stasis tube as well, only much slower. He seemed to be a bit perkier, however.
“Hey Fausch! Oh my God, Shadow, you look like you’ve been on a trip to hell and back.” He said, dog-piling them on the dirt floor.
“Holy shit, man.” Fausch coughed.
“Daiv, you’re crushing my ribs.” Shadow said.
“Hey,” Manuel said, butting in on the family reunion, “As much as this is wonderful, GUN’s gonna be down here any minute.”
“Aw crap.” Fausch said. “How’re we supposed to fight them? We don’t have any-” He was cut off by a revolver being thrown at his stomach. Daiv received a similar gift.
“The troops up there are armed to the teeth, and if you take one out, so are you.” Manuel said, pulling out two Desert Eagles that he looted from dead soldiers up in the first basement.
Footsteps sounded in the distance…
“Shadow, who is this guy?” Fausch said, looking at Manuel…
“Manuel Riviera.” Manuel said. “I’m a wanderer who stumbled across a hole in the brick wall upstairs and found you. My guess is that if I hadn’t killed a dozen of those soldiers, you’d be splatters in your test tubes.”
“I’m Shadow. Pleased to meet you.” He said sarcastically.
“I’m Fausch, the only one here with any manners.” He offered his hand, glaring at Daiv and Shadow. Manuel shook it.
Pitter patter of combat boots drew closer…
Loose bullets rattled…
Thumping inches from the door…
“Take cover!” Shadow snarled as he opened fire on the first volley of soldiers. Rows of militants fell like bleeding dominoes until…
Click, Click, Click…
“Shit!” Shadow yelled, ducking down under a Desert Eagle round, picking up a MP5K-SD in mid-drop, kicking a stray grenade back at the soldiers, and sliding quickly behind Daiv’s stasis tube. The explosion sent several soldiers forward. One stuck on a large piece of glass still attached to Fausch’s tube, sliding down slowly, a disgusting grimace plastered on his scorched face.
Bullets exchanged for several minutes, but Shadow’s side was losing ammo. It seemed like their last stand, until Shadow felt strange. A rush of emotions poured through his head like Niagara Falls, and his body followed suite. Rushing energy surged through his fur, burning the dirty mats and from his fur. Standing in front of the GUN troops right then was the same terror the troops saw fifty years ago…
“Ultimate life form…” Shadow thought. Suddenly, he shot straight out the doorway, as before, and vaporized any part of the soldiers that touched him. He dropped to the floor as soon as he cleared the insurgents, and cleared the remainder of the soldiers by hand. The aura seemed to be an invincibility safeguard of some sort, because he’d taken several hundred bullets, and they all deflected off of his glowing body. Every time he struck a soldier, the attack sliced limbs or whatever he hit off and cauterized the wounds instantly. And every time a soldier attacked him directly, whatever they hit him with, be it a nightstick or their fists and feet, vaporized instantaneously. All the soldiers soon lay there dead in a pile of blood, limbs, and guns. The aura faded slowly and his incredible strength along with it…
“Oh Lord!” One soldier said. “I thought he was just an urban myth.” Most of the insurgents gasped, yelled obscenities, or prayed. Five fell down with a scorch two fingers wide in their abdomens. Shadow grew tired of the monotony and so he decided to cut their suffering short. He held his hand up as it slowly began to glow with a faint yellow, then a bright blue light. He pointed two fingers at the center of the troops and let the energy go. A blast of blue water-like energy sped into the soldiers, exploding into blue. All of the soldiers vaporized, and there was no trace of them to be seen. The room reeked of burning flesh and victory.
“We live to fight another day.” Shadow said, aura fading as he ascended the stairs…