Tuesday, June 17, 2014

"Whoa, Knuckles! Hang on!" Silver cried as he pulled Knuckles back into the blue car with his psychokinesis. He put him back in his seat. "Jeez, guys--what's the big rush?" Knuckles asked Sonic and Shadow, who were sitting in the front. "We're looking for Eggman--we got a message that he's somewhere in this area." Sonic answered, looking back at the red echidna. He turned to the black hedgehog driving. "Step on it, Shadow!" Shadow scowled at Sonic. "This is as fast as your junky vehicle can GO." he replied strongly.

     "Junky, huh? You know what they say, Shadow--don't judge a book by its cover." Sonic replied, pushing a button in his car. The car transformed and sped up, temporarily pinning Knuckles and Silver against their seats. Shadow could see Sonic staring at him with his peripheral vision. He was wearing an annoyingly wide grin, but he kept looking at the road. Sonic smirked. "You were saying?" "Hmph. Whatever." Shadow huffed. "What are the coordinates already?!" he asked impatiently. Sonic pointed backwards at the Tornado with his thumb. "Ask Tails," he said.

     Shadow turned on the radio. "Where are we going, fox?" Shadow inquired. Sonic looked slightly annoyed. "He has a NAME, you know. You should use it." Shadow ignored Sonic. "According to this, there's massive electronic activity in that ruined castle to the east." Tails told his comrades. Shadow turned right hard at the corner, making Silver and Knuckles shriek and cling to each other like baby sloths. Sonic looked back and laughed. "Having some problems, guys?" he teased. Knuckles glared. "Oh, very funny, Sonic. Shadow's gonna get us killed, I just know it!" "I'm not a reckless driver," Shadow replied calmly. Silver looked worried, and glanced nervously at Knuckles. "Is he sure about that?" the hedgehog whispered sharply to the echidna. Shadow whipped around. "What was that?!" he demanded. Silver paled a bit. "Nothing!" he lied. When Shadow turned back around, Knuckles laughed silently. Silver innocently shrugged. "What was I supposed to do?" he whispered. Knuckles shrugged too.

     As they came to the next curve, they both clung to their seat belts as if their lives depended on it. Suddenly, an aqua glow surrounded the car, and it began to float. Shadow looked alarmed. "What?!" Silver began to giggle, and Shadow rolled his eyes. "I should've known," he muttered. Silver gently turned, and then put the car back on the road. "Let me handle the turns," Silver told Shadow. "YES, let him!" Knuckles agreed. Shadow seemed almost angry. "Are you saying I CAN'T?" "Maybe I am," Knuckles said in a babyish voice. Shadow grimaced angrily and turned back to the road.

     "Everyone needs a bit of help sometimes, Shadow--even you. I mean, if you'd prefer not to drive because of stress, then I can always take over. And you should let Silver help." "I don't need help," Shadow growled. "I don't need ANYONE." "Everybody needs at least one friend, Shadow. Including you," Sonic replied, sounding strangely serious. Shadow did not answer. Instead, the black hedgehog stared ahead, a flame seeming to be burning behind his eyes. Sonic's shoulders slumped a little bit. "Why do I even try?" he whispered to himself, feeling his eyes getting a little misty. He quickly closed his eyes, trying to fight the tears. The worst and most embarrassing thing that could happen right now would be for him to cry in front of Shadow, Silver and Knuckles.

     "Shadow's probably never gonna be my friend... Maybe I should just stop trying." Sonic continued. Silver leaned forward. "No, Sonic, don't give up yet," he whispered encouragingly. "You and Shadow are prob'ly closer to being friends than you think." Sonic turned around, surprised. "Thank you, Silver," he whispered, trying to smile. Silver gave Sonic a warm smile back, and Sonic began to smile wider. "You're welcome." he replied, in a low voice. Silver was really nice once you got to know him. Maybe Shadow's like that too, Sonic thought.

     When they came to the next turn, Silver suddenly couldn't decide whether he should take over or not. Would Shadow be even more upset if he did, or would they crash if Silver didn't "take the wheel"? Then he decided he would take his chances. At the next turn, the car began to glow aqua again, and turned easily. Shadow gave Silver the death glare. "I told you I didn't need any help!" he yelled, sounding angry. Inwardly, Silver shivered, but remained calm and cool on the outside. While he looked calm, Silver's anger was boiling up inside of him, and he suddenly couldn't contain it anymore. "I was just trying to get us safely to our destination, Shadow!" he yelled back. "What's your problem, anyway?" Silver continued, trying to regain his composure. Knuckles leaned over. "He always acts like this, Silver." Shadow overheard and exploded. "I DO NOT!" "SHADOW!" Sonic yelped. "Keep your eyes on the road!!!"

     They were feet away from a tree! Everyone in the car was visualizing their wreck, and Shadow barely missed crashing. Silver glared. "NOW do you see why I should take the turns?" "SHUT UP!" Shadow hollered. "YOU SHUT UP!" Silver hollered back. Knuckles put his hands over his ears to try to drown out the noise.

     Shadow looked like he was twitching. Everyone could hear him breathing coarsely, and Sonic felt like he should say something, but couldn't work up the nerve. Even Knuckles stayed quiet. Then, Sonic finally ventured to speak. "Uh, are we nearly there, Shadow?" Shadow turned slowly to Sonic. "Thankfully, yes." Once they got to the castle, everyone got out. They all looked around for a moment as Tails landed in the Tornado. "Hey, Tails, what is this place?" Sonic asked curiously, gesturing to the half-standing, half-destroyed castle in front of them.

     "Eggman's new secret base," Tails replied. "Well, it's not a secret anymore," Knuckles grinned. "Let's go trash the place!" Silver exclaimed. Shadow held him back. "We should think of a plan first." "Why should we listen to YOU? You almost killed us on the way here!" "Only because you interfered with my driving!" Shadow protested angrily. Sonic put his hands to his temples. Without waiting for anyone else, Sonic walked towards the castle as Silver and Shadow began to argue. "Hey, Sonic, wait up!" Tails called, as he and Knuckles followed. That was when one of the statues in the courtyard began to turn--by itself. Shadow caught a glimpse of it, and as it turned, a large decoration hanging above Sonic began to shake and crumble--it was going to fall! "Watch out!" Shadow warned.

     Sonic turned around with shock written all over his features. Shadow realized Sonic was too frightened to move, so he ran over and pushed him out of the way just in time. "You... Saved me..." Sonic said in disbelief. Then he grinned. "Aw, Shadow! You DO care!" Shadow seemed irritated. "I don't want you to DIE, Faker! Anyone would have saved you!"

     Sonic noticed a slight blush on Shadow's muzzle. "You care, Shadow! You just don't wanna admit it!" "I do NOT!" Shadow yelled. "Caring for others is weak and makes you vulnerable!" The Ultimate Lifeform quickly got up and dusted himself off, trying to walk away before Sonic could say anything else. Sonic had noticed a glimmer in Shadow's eyes. Was he trying not to cry? Sonic watched him go. Whether he admitted it or not, Sonic knew that Shadow had just proved that he cared about him. Knuckles and Silver giggled as Shadow went by, not even fazed when he glowered at them. Sonic walked back over towards Tails and the others.

     Silver's smile almost split his face. "Didya see his face?!" Tails grinned. "I knew he wasn't as cold as he seems!" Sonic saw Shadow go out towards the woods, sitting on a stump in a clearing. "Hey, Tails, you guys go inside," Sonic instructed. "I'll be there in a minute." Tails smiled. "Okay, Sonic. See you later."

     Sonic walked over to Shadow. "Hey, all joking aside, thanks for saving me back there." Shadow shrugged. "It's nothing," he said very softly. Sonic leaned down. "Hey, Shadow?" "Hmm?" Sonic took a deep breath. "What's wrong?" Shadow seemed startled. "Wrong? Nothing's wrong." Once or twice, Shadow tried to meet Sonic's gaze, but he couldn't allow himself, and turned away from Sonic. Sonic looked very serious. "Shadow, if something is bothering you, you can tell me about it." Shadow seemed to hesitate. "It-it's... I..." Shadow began to say, but cut himself off. Sonic could've sworn he saw a water drop--or a teardrop--fall from Shadow's face. "Shadow?" Sonic said in disbelief. Another tear leaked from Shadow's eye. "Are you crying?" Sonic asked gently. "NOOO!" Shadow retorted. Then he sighed. "...Yes." he mumbled, ashamed. Sonic looked sad, too. "Why? What's wrong?"

     Shadow turned towards Sonic, revealing his face, streaming with tears. "I don't want anything to happen to you." he dared to say, then closed his eyes, releasing several more tears. Sonic cocked his head. "What do you mean?" "Ever since Maria died, I've been scared to open up--because I don't wanna go through the pain again." Sonic could feel Shadow's pain, but Shadow felt relieved to have finally told someone about his feelings. He just hoped that Sonic didn't think differently of him now. "But then, I met you guys, and I started to care all over again. So I acted tough--to keep you away, yet you still were kind to me." Shadow shed more tears. "I'm sorry," he whispered. Sonic gently placed a hand on Shadow's shoulder. He didn't say a word, but the expression on his face said it all to Shadow. He was forgiven, and he didn't have to hide anymore.

     "Sonic, don't tell anyone." Shadow continued. "It's enough that you know... I don't feel like I can tell anyone else yet." "I won't," Sonic promised. "Friends?" he asked hopefully. Shadow gave him a tiny smile. "Close enough." Shadow stood up and shocked Sonic by giving him a hug. Sonic was literally speechless. "Shadow?" "Thank you, Sonic. For everything." Shadow said gratefully, as he released him. Sonic smiled shyly. "Aw, no biggie! Come on! We should get back to the others."

     Sonic and Shadow walked back to the castle, entering the large throne room. Sonic looked around for a minute. There was no sign of Eggman--and there was no sign of their comrades, either. "Hey, where is everyone?" "I don't know," Shadow replied softly. Then Sonic heard Tails' voice. "Sonic, help!" "Hey, it came from over there!" Sonic said, pointing into another room. They followed the sound through a few hallways, into a dark room. When their eyes adjusted, they saw their friends caught in a trap. "Guys!" Sonic yelled, trying to run forward. Shadow held him back. "No! Wait!"

     Shadow grabbed his arm. "What are you doing? We have to help them!" Sonic said, trying to jerk away. Shadow pointed towards the floor. "Can't you see that crack? It's obviously a trap door!" Sonic held still. "What should we do?" Shadow looked around. He scowled. "We attack the kidnapper," he told Sonic, pointing into the darkest corner of the room. "Huh?" Sonic asked, as Shadow Hover-Skated into the black. "Wait for me, Shadow!" Sonic called nervously, following his friend. Sonic walked blindly in the darkness, until he ran into something. "Oof! Watch where you're going!" a voice hissed. "Sorry," Sonic apologized. Then he paused for a second. "Wait, who said that?" he asked. "Sonic?!" a very familiar voice asked, startled. "Eggman!" Sonic mentally face-palmed himself. "Prepare yourself, Eggbelly!" he said, balling his hands into fists. He threw a few punches ahead, that didn't impact anything. That was strange--it sounded like the direction Eggman was in. Where'd he go? Sonic hadn't heard anything. That's when he felt something painfully come into contact with the top of his head. "Ungh!" Sonic grunted, then everything went black.

     When he came to, Shadow was gone. "Shadow?" Sonic called worriedly. Then Sonic heard someone walk closer. "Ah, Sonic, my old friend." came Eggman's obnoxious voice. Everything was dark. It was hard to see. Sonic couldn't tell whether he had been moved, or if he was still in the same room. His head throbbed, and he felt dizzy. He groaned. "Eggman," he growled disdainfully. Sonic felt rage rising in his chest. "What did you do with Shadow?!" he demanded. Eggman laughed. "Ho ho ho ho ho! You really think I would just tell you?" he sneered, twiddling his facial hair. Sonic scowled. He could make out Eggman's silhouette in the shadows now, but when he tried to run towards him, he found he was unable to do so.

     Sonic realized his hands were chained to the wall. Great, just great, he thought. Eggman laughed. "And don't even think about trying anything funny, hedgehog!" "What do you want, Eggman?" Sonic asked cautiously. Eggman smiled intimidatingly. "I want you out of the way." he said, half-laughing. "I've been watching you for a long time now, Sonic...and your greatest weakness is water." He pressed a button on a remote, opening the floor underneath Sonic, making him hang by his arms. "Ouch!" Sonic winced--then his eyes widened. Underneath him were half a dozen sharks. He felt a very rare sensation of fear--but then he was coated with a teal light.

     "What?!" Eggman demanded, whirling around. Silver the Hedgehog ripped the chains out of the wall, and brought the weightless Sonic to his side. "You really thought a simple cell could hold me?" he asked Eggman, with a mischievous grin. "See ya, doc."

     They floated out into the hallway, where Silver put Sonic down. "Thanks, Silver!" Sonic said, relieved. "I owe ya one!" Silver smiled warmly. "Nah, it's cool." Sonic turned serious again. "Where's Shadow?" "Hold on, I'll locate him," Silver replied. He began to glow aqua, and the aura around him pulsated. Suddenly he opened his eyes. "I found him! Follow me!" Silver began to float through the castle, Sonic following him closely.

     When they arrived at the entrance to the dungeon, Silver busted the door open. "Shadow!" Sonic called, seeing his friend dragging around a heavy iron ball. Silver opened the door and helped Shadow get loose from his imprisonment. Shadow had even been gagged. When he could talk again, Shadow said, "Eggman took my Inhibitor Rings...I need them to prevent my power from overflowing." Shadow tried to stand up, but his legs gave out, so Sonic let the older hedgehog lean on him. "So we need to find his Rings, then?" Silver asked. Sonic nodded. "Yep, so where do we start looking?" Shadow pondered for a moment. "Let's go find the doctor. He probably has them." "Alright," Sonic said. "I owe Baldy McNosehair a smack-down." Silver began to glow again. "I'll lead the way. Follow me!" he commanded. Sonic followed, going slowly for Shadow's sake.

     They came to a large hallway--with a long, long table. At the end of it, there was a tray, on top of which was sitting Shadow's Inhibitor Rings. Sonic stopped. "Why do I have a bad feeling about this?" he asked. "Hey, I'll take care of it." Silver said, using his power to pull the Rings to them without moving from the spot. That was when a mega-huge robot showed up. "What the-" Shadow sweat-dropped. "Don't worry," Silver grinned. "I got this. HA!" he cried. The robot was flung to the wall, and it blew to smithereens. Sonic and Shadow turned away trying not to get caught in the explosion. Sonic smiled at the white-gray hedgehog. "You're comin' in real handy, Silver!" Silver smiled back. "Thanks!"

Silver handed Shadow his Rings, and he put them on his wrists. He sighed with relief. "Much better. Now, let's go find-" "EEYA!" screamed Knuckles, punching up through the floor. Silver shrieked.

     The red echidna helped himself up, and stood there panting for a minute. "Knuckles!" Sonic exclaimed. "What, did you guys forget about me?" Knuckles asked, sounding just the slightest tad offended. Sonic grinned. "Nah. We were just about to come get ya, actually. Looks like ya beat us to it, though." "Speaking of which, we need to find Tails." Sonic continued. "He's down there," Knuckles said, pointing to the new hole in the floor.

     Sonic quickly jumped down. "YAHOOO!" Silver sweatdropped. Shadow sighed. "Chaos Control!" Then he too was gone. Silver and Knuckles looked at the hole. "Ladies first," Knuckles smirked, giving the young hedgehog a shove. "AIEE!"

     "Tails? Yo, Tails!" Sonic called, cupping his hands around his mouth. Tails was busy typing on a huge computer in the center of the room. The kit turned around. "Hey, Sonic! I was just hacking into Eggman's database." "As if it's a walk in the park," Shadow smiled. Sonic gave Shadow a grin. "It turns out that he's looking for some kind of artifact that was lost long ago..." Sonic rolled his eyes. "Probably some sort of awakening thingamajig that'll set a monster loose. What's the plan, buddy?" "We find it before Eggman does," was the simple reply. Shadow nodded. "Sounds like a plan. Let's get out of here, then. Everyone come close to me." Everybody gathered around him. "Chaos... Control!"

     In a burst of Chaos Energy, the group all teleported to the courtyard of the castle. Tails began to fly off. "Come on--I know where Eggman's been searching!" the fox called, and they all followed.
     They ran into a dense jungle. "Wow, look at this place," said Silver, amazed. On impulse, he lifted himself into the air with his powers and flew around a massive tree a few times. "Hey, remember why we came here," Knuckles reminded. Silver blushed. "Oh, sorry." He grinned. Shadow shook his head, but he was smiling. "Hey, Shadow?" asked Silver, flying over to the onyx hedgehog. "Are you still mad at me?" Shadow shook his head. Silver smiled.

     For a few moments, everyone wandered around, making sure that they could still see each other. "Well, I'm a treasure hunter--if anyone can find this relic thing, it'd be me." Knuckles stated. "Do your thing, Knuckles!" Sonic grinned. At that, Knuckles began to dig a hole in the ground, using the spikes on his fists. Then they heard him yell, "Hey! I found something!".

     Silver pushed his way forward. "What is it?! What did ya find?!" Knuckles came back up. "Well, um...I don't know." "What do you mean?" Silver asked, confused. "Come see for yourself." Knuckles replied, heading back down into the hole again. They followed him. When they got inside, it looked like some sort of giant anthill--there were passageways and cave entrances everywhere. Silver's mouth dropped open, and he could not speak for amazement. "Wow," Sonic breathed.

     Shadow frowned a little bit. "It's gonna take forever to find the artifact in all this," he grumbled. "Oh, complain, complain, complain," Sonic teased. Shadow looked over at him, momentarily smirking. Sonic grinned back. It felt great to finally be on friendly terms with Shadow. "Well, the sooner we start looking, the sooner we'll find it," Knuckles stated. Silver nodded. "We should probably split up," Tails suggested. "I can go alone," Knuckles said firmly. "I'll go with Sonic," Tails grinned. "Then I guess that leaves me and Shadow," Silver smiled. "Let's go!" "Okay, see you later, then!" Tails called, as the teams walked into different passages.

     "Hey, Tails, do ya think there are any GHOSTS down here?" Sonic teased. The kit visibly paled. "STOP THAT!" Sonic laughed. "Okay, okay! Just teasin' ya." The blue hedgehog grinned playfully, then patted Tails on the head a couple of times.

     Meanwhile, Knuckles was busy trying to find the artifact as well. "Where is it?" he growled impatiently. A rock fell on his head. "OW! STUPID ROCK!" He angrily punched it, but he punched too hard, and made a large crack in the floor. He peered down into it. "Huh? What's that?" he asked no one in particular, and dug down deeper.

     He dug and dug and then gasped. "GUYS!" Knuckles hollered. "I FOUND IT!" His voice echoed throughout the tunnels, and they all gathered around the hole that Knuckles popped out of. He proudly held it up for his teammates to see. "Told ya I had a knack for this kinda stuff," Knuckles grinned. "All right!" Tails yelled happily. "You're the best, Knuckles!" "I know," said Knuckles, folding his arms proudly. Sonic laughed at Knuckles' lack of modesty. "So, what do we do with it?" Silver asked, gesturing to the relic. "Let's get outta here first," Knuckles said.

     "Come closer, everyone." Shadow commanded, and they obeyed. "Chaos Control!" Now they were back at the car. "We'll take the artifact to my lab to analyze it," stated Tails. "All right!" Sonic grinned. "Sounds like a plan!" They all hopped back in Sonic's car. Silver and Knuckles made sure to buckle up--they still weren't entirely sure about Shadow's driving. Shadow drove much better on the return trip, however. When they reached Tails' lab, they all hopped out.

     Tails immediately snatched up the relic and headed inside to study it. The rest followed him in--and watched for a few minutes. Sonic began to get a little bored. "How long is this gonna take?" Sonic yawned. Tails glared slightly. "Sonic, you can't rush science!" The hedgehog shrugged. "Whatever." Knuckles smirked. "Have you MET this guy?" he asked sarcastically, looking at Sonic. "He can rush ANYTHING." Tails rolled his eyes. "At least he doesn't rush girls," he grinned. Sonic began to laugh as well. Then Knuckles frowned. "Jet's a jerk." "True that," Sonic agreed. The hawk was the only rival Sonic had not made friends with. Sonic thought about Jet for a moment, then his mind wandered to racing--and that gave him an idea. "Hey, Shadow, Silver--are you guys up for a little competition?" he asked, smiling. "What kind of competition?" the two other hedgehogs asked in unison. Sonic grinned. "How 'bout a foot race?"

     The trio headed outside. We'll run from here down to that big tree down there and back. Ready?" Shadow and Silver nodded. "GO!" Like three bullets, they took off. Silver began to fall behind, and Shadow and Sonic were neck-and-neck. Sonic glanced sideways at the black hedgehog. This time they raced, it had a different feel. Before, it was mostly to try to defeat each other. Now it was all in good fun. Sonic touched the tree and started running back. Shadow was no more than a second behind.

     Sonic's legs seemed to go into overdrive, and he blazed back to the starting point first. "I win!" Shadow came right behind, and Silver dashed up a few moments later. "Good race," Shadow smiled. Silver's mouth dropped open in shock, and he stared at Shadow for a moment. "You're being a good sport?! What's come over you? Are you sick?" Then he thought for a second. "Did he really just say that?" he asked, half-joking, half-serious. Shadow looked funny. "What, you don't like it?" he teased. Silver seemed flustered. "No, no!" he protested, waving his hands. "It's great! It's just... unexpected." Shadow smiled a tad, surprising Silver even more, and that made him chuckle a bit. Silver turned to Sonic. "What is UP with him?" he whispered. Sonic grinned. "Guess he's just in a really good mood." Silver still seemed slightly nervous. "Let's see how long that lasts."

     "So, is anyone else hungry?" Sonic asked, thoughtfully patting his tan belly. "I am," Silver said, raising his hand. Shadow nodded. "Me too." Sonic grinned. "Chili dog time!" he yelled, running toward the lab. Shadow and Silver sweat-dropped. "Hey, wait up!" they called, running after the sapphire hedgehog. Sonic raced through the door. "Hey, Tails, I'm gonna make some chili dogs," he stated, as he went into the kitchen and pulled out a can of chili. "Okay," Tails replied, never looking away from his work. When Sonic was done, he grabbed five plates and gave out lunch. They ate in silence until they heard a piercing shriek. "Huh?!" Everyone demanded, whirling around towards the source of the scream. "What happened?!" Sonic asked briskly, heading outside.

     They all ran out, and Sonic gasped. Eggman had Amy! "Ho ho ho ho!" he laughed. "If you want your girlfriend back, then come get her, hedgehog!" He then flew away, with Amy desperately reaching for her friends. "HELP!" Sonic looked slightly irritated. "She's not my girlfriend," he muttered. "Oh no you don't!" Silver said, flying up towards Eggman. He used his powers to send him soaring off--saving Amy first, of course. When he got them back on the ground, Amy ran up and hugged Sonic. "I knew you'd save me!" she cried. Silver and Sonic raised an eyebrow. "Hey, wait a second! I'm the one that saved you!" Silver cried, slightly angry. "I know, I meant 'you' as in, 'you guys'." Amy explained. Silver's face softened. "Oh."

     "Do you know why Eggman kidnapped you, Amy?" asked Shadow. The girl shook her head. Sonic looked serious. "Do you think he knows that we've got the relic?" Everybody else suddenly sobered. "Maybe," Knuckles whispered. "You stay with us, Amy, so Eggman can't take you again." She nodded.

     Silver looked up at the sky. "Hey, I didn't know it was that late--it's starting to get dark." Sonic looked up, too. "Wow. Time sure flies when you're havin' fun, huh?" "Yeah," Silver said. "Let's go inside." Sonic laid down on Tails' couch. "I'm beat," he sighed, and closed his eyes. "Think I'll take a nap." Everyone else decided to do the same. "Sleep tight, everybody," Silver whispered.

     In the morning, Knuckles was the first one up. He yawned and stretched, then checked on his friends. Shadow was waking up, but the others were still deeply snoozing. "Mornin', Shadow," Knuckles whispered. Shadow rubbed his eyes and sat up. Sonic was snoring, and Knuckles and Shadow began to laugh at him. Knuckles leaned down and whispered in Sonic's ear. "Hey, you!" Sonic eyes popped open. "Huh? What?" Knuckles grinned. "You were snoring," he said. Sonic looked confused. "What? I don't snore!" Knuckles cracked up. "Yes, you do!" Sonic looked a tad surprised. "I do? Are you sure?" He thought about it for a moment. Then he shook his head. "I don't think so." This led to an argument that woke up Amy. She blinked, looking confused. "Whoops," Sonic said guiltily. "Sorry, Amy." "Oh, well. Since I'm up, I might as well make breakfast," she replied, shuffling towards the kitchen.

     She fixed some pancakes, and the wonderful smell woke up Silver. "Hey, what's cooking?" he asked sleepily, getting out of his bed. Amy grinned. "Hi, Silver! Ya like pancakes?" Silver rubbed his stomach. "Yum!" She got a plate for him, and they all started to eat. "Hey," Sonic said, right after swallowing a large bite. "You think we should wake up Tails?" Shadow shook his head. "No, let him sleep." He smirked. "That way, we can have all the food!" Everybody cracked up. "Shadow!" Amy scolded good-naturedly. "Just kidding..." Sonic laughed again. "So I SHOULD wake him, then?" Tails walked into the room. "Wake ME?" Sonic waved. "Hey, g'mornin', Tails!" "Hi!" Tails sniffed, and then his face lit up with a huge smile. "Do I smell pancakes?!" Amy grinned. "Come and get it!" Tails quickly sat down and Amy brought him a small stack of pancakes. He almost immediately began to eat. Once everybody was finished, they helped Amy clear the table.

     "Honestly, Amy- how do ya do it?" Sonic asked, grinning. "If you marry me, I might tell you," Amy teased. Sonic turned crimson. "WHAT?!" Amy cracked up. "I'm kidding!" Although, she thought to herself, it would be nice to have Sonic for a husband. She giggled at the thought. Shadow smirked. "What's wrong, Sonic? You don't wanna get married?" "NO!" Sonic bellowed. He lowered his voice. "Not yet." Shadow's smile grew wider--he looked mischievous, a look that Sonic had rarely seen on him before. But his thoughts were interrupted by a weird buzzing sound. He paused for a moment. "Hey, does anyone else hear that?" "Hear what?" asked Knuckles. Everybody quieted and tried to listen.
     JZZZ... JZZZ... "There, didn't you hear that?" Sonic asked, looking at his friends. They all just looked confused. Sonic shrugged. "I guess it's just me." But he heard it over and over, again and again--until he decided to go outside to look around.

     Sonic casually walked outside, looking about him. He scratched his head. "Could I have imagined that?" he wondered out loud. He felt two arms seize him, one covering his mouth, the other lifting him off the ground and pressing his arms to his sides. He tried to yell, but he was too muffled for anyone to hear. After about ten seconds, Amy frowned. "He should be back by now..." She looked outside. "Where did he go?!" Shadow jumped up. "He's gone?!" He ran outside and looked around, but Sonic had vanished without a trace.
     Shadow could feel fear snake into his heart. I hope Sonic's all right, he thought nervously. Knuckles seemed undisturbed. "He couldn't have gone that far. Let's look around." They looked all around, but still no Sonic. Amy's eyes welled up with tears. "We have to find him!" She cried fearfully. Tails looked determined. "Well, I'm gonna go find Sonic. Who's gonna come with me?" "I will!" Amy replied, followed by Shadow, Silver and Knuckles. "Alright. Some of you can come in the Tornado with me, and the others can go together on foot or in Sonic's car."

     It was decided that Shadow would accompany Amy on foot, and Tails and Silver would monitor the skies. Knuckles had insisted on taking the car, even though that would make him be alone. "I can handle it," he had said. They all began scouring the countryside for Sonic. In one hour, they all met up to report their findings--or, in this case, failure. Nobody had seen a trace of Sonic. Amy was sobbing almost uncontrollably. "Where could he be?!" she wailed. "We have to find him!" Knuckles gave her a hug. "Don't worry. We will," he said with surprising tenderness. Tails looked worried. "Guys, I didn't want to say anything before, but...I have a hunch that Eggman's behind this." Amy looked horrified. "No telling what he might do to Sonic!" Knuckles paled, then looked enraged. "Let's go save Sonic," he growled. Tails scowled determinedly. "Right." So they piled into Sonic's car and drove speedily to Eggman's factory.

     Meanwhile, Sonic groaned and opened his eyes. "Ungh.. Where.. am I?" He felt sick and dizzy. The world looked blurry. He blinked a few times, trying to focus. "Oh, my head..." he moaned, trying to place a hand on it. He found that he couldn't. After his vision cleared up, he realized that he was chained down to a large slab of some sort.
The hedgehog felt terrified. "What's goin' on?" he wondered out loud. "Guys! Help me!" Eggman walked in. "No need to call, hedgehog. By the time your friends get here, it will be too late!" Sonic froze. "T-too late? Whaddya mean by that, McNosehair?!"

     "Say your prayers, Sonic the Hedgehog, because you're about to meet your maker!" Eggman cackled. Sonic's eyes widened. He struggled against his restraints, but he felt a lot weaker than normal. What had Eggman done to him?! "Wriggle all you want, rodent." Eggman said. "I've injected a poison in you--any movement you make simply hastens your demise." Sonic stopped struggling, staring at his arch-enemy. He had never felt so helpless. If he could get loose, he might be able to find some sort of antidote--but if he did, he might die before he could find the cure... What could he do? Sonic couldn't think. He couldn't even breathe for terror. He waited quietly until Eggman left, and then began to sob almost uncontrollably. So this was the end?

     Sonic tried to get a hold of himself. "C'mon, you're Sonic the Hedgehog. You've been in tougher scrapes than this," he told himself, trying to muster the courage and reasoning to take action. Sonic then had an idea. "I'll send out a distress call!" he closed his eyes. At that moment, Silver's pupil's dilated, and he gasped. "What is it Silver?" asked Shadow. "I-I can sense Sonic! He's in danger! Hurry!" Silver flew away at lightning speed, and his friends followed.

     Sonic could feel himself getting weaker. It almost felt like he was running full-tilt--his muscles were getting fatigued, but a lot faster than they did in reality. He felt tired. Sonic tried to breathe deeply and keep his heart rate regular. The faster it beat, the faster the toxin would spread and kill him. "Please hurry, guys," he whispered. A single tear ran down his cheek. "I need you..." Then he succumbed to tears again. "I don't wanna die..."

     Silver and the others ran as fast as they could go. "The signal's getting stronger!" Silver cried. Once they got there, Knuckles busted through the wall, and Sonic's friends swarmed in. They quickly found Sonic, who was overjoyed to see them. Amy ran over and hugged Sonic, sobbing. "We were so worried about you! Are you all right?" Sonic looked very serious. "Well, no, not exactly." Amy looked stunned. "What do you mean?" "Eggman injected a toxin inside me. Unless we find an antidote..." Sonic's eyes brimmed up- "I'm done for." Silver and Knuckles got him out of his bonds, and when Sonic tried to stand up, his knees gave way and he fell. Silver lifted him back up with his powers. "Here, allow me." he said kindly. Tails was beginning to tear up. "S-Sonic...? Are you gonna be okay?" he asked worriedly. Knuckles looked over. "He will be if I have anything to do with it," he replied strongly.

     Sonic suddenly felt a wave of fatigue. "Ungh..." He leaned over on Amy for support. Shadow looked grim. "We need to find that antidote, and fast! Let's go!" "I'll stay here with Sonic," said Amy, squeezing her friend's hand. Sonic sat down on the floor. "Let's not base our entire strategy from this," Tails began. "But if I know Eggman, he's got the antidote around here somewhere." "We need to figure out what Sonic's got," Silver added. "I'll find a medical book... Or something." he finished lamely.

     The others ran out, and Amy sat down with Sonic. "It's gonna be okay, Sonic," she soothed. Tears streamed down Sonic's cheeks. "I-I'm scared, Amy!" "I know," she replied, holding him close. Silver looked frantically at Eggman's bookshelves. "Okay, need to find a medical book..." As Tails flew by Eggman's "lair", he overheard a piece of a conversation that sparked his interest. "You mean, sir, that the antidote for Sonic's condition is--" Orbot started to ask, but the fox heard a metallic clang. "You idiot! Don't say it out loud...just in case that hedgehog is listening." Tails growled. "Darn," He listened for a few seconds more.

     "Why did you write it down, you stupid oatmeal brain?!" Eggman shouted. "Well, just in case we needed it." responded Cubot. Tails heard another metallic clang. "WHY WOULD WE NEED THE ANTIDOTE?!" Eggman demanded, and the kit recognized the distinct sound of paper ripping. "Oh, no..." Tails mumbled to himself. He teared up. "Now what?"

     Amy could tell Sonic was fading. "Hang in there, big guy." Sonic nodded weakly. "I'm trying," he whispered. He laid back on the floor. Silver had now found a book and was reading it frantically. "Okay, antidotes for poison..."

     As Eggman walked out of the room, Knuckles suddenly grabbed Eggman by the collar of his shirt, pressing him up against the wall. "ALRIGHT, EGGMAN! What's the cure?!" he said, holding a spiked fist close to Eggman's face. Eggman was stunned. "Where did you come from?!" "That doesn't matter! Tell me the cure, or I'll pound you into the floor!" the echidna threatened. Eggman cringed, shrinking back from Knuckles as best he could. "Alright, alright!" he said, startled beyond measure. "I'll tell you." Knuckles put him down, but the instant he did, Eggman flipped a switch on the wall that made the entire place start to go into lock-down! "Why that dirty--!" Knuckles growled, as a wall slammed down between him and the doctor.

     Amy noticed worriedly that Sonic's breathing was becoming labored. "Sonic?" "Amy... I think... I think... " Her eyes widened, filling with tears. "No, no!" she screamed, panicked. "You're can't!" Sonic smiled just the slightest bit, and patted her hand.

     "AHA!" Silver exclaimed excitedly. He began to read the book faster than he had ever read anything before. Shadow dashed directly through the walls as if they didn't hurt him at all--they did, but he was too concerned about Sonic to care much for himself right now. He went into the room where Tails was--Eggman's "lair"--and he found Tails trying to put the pieces of the paper back together.

     "Take care of yourself, Amy," Sonic whispered. Then his hand went limp in hers. Amy sat there in shock for a few moments. "S-Sonic?" she whispered. She shook him violently, her voice raising. "Sonic?!"

     Tails hurriedly put the pieces of it back together, and Shadow ran through the fortress until he found a medicine cabinet. He snatched up what he needed and took off at nearly Sonic speed to get the antidote back to his friend. "I'VE GOT IT!" he bellowed as he ran. Shadow burst into the room. "Amy! I got it!" Amy looked up, tears streaming down her cheeks. "I'm sorry, Shadow--it's too late. He hung on for as long as he could, but it wasn't long enough..." She broke down.

     Shadow stood there in shock. "No," he whispered, his voice trembling. "It--it can't be!" He ran over and took Sonic's hand. It was limp. Amy became hysterical, clutching the lifeless Sonic close to her. Shadow's shoulders slumped, and he froze. He stared with disbelief at them, his heart pounding wildly. "No..." he mumbled, tears forming in his eyes. He knelt down, feeling like he might collapse. He pounded the ground. "NO!"

     Tails ran in. His eyes became very wide, and he turned around and sobbed into Knuckles' chest, the echidna holding back his tears. Silver covered his mouth, unable to speak. Shadow suddenly got up, hastily opening the medicine that was still in his hand, and he poured it down Sonic's throat. "No, no, no..." he repeated, his face becoming moist with tears. Why did this have to happen?! He finally trusted someone enough to befriend them, and now this happened! WHY?! Shadow choked as he sobbed. "WHY, FAKER?!" he screamed, tears streaming down his cheeks. "WHY YOU AND NOT ME?!"

     Amy wailed uncontrollably, Silver tried to comfort her, while attempting to hold back his own tears--and failing. Knuckles finally broke and shed one tear. And then another. And another. "I never thought that our race yesterday would be our last one..." Silver mumbled, burying his face in his hands.

     Shadow's heart ached. He was too grieved to care that he was being out-of-character by crying uncontrollably. In a few moments, Shadow ceased crying. He sat up, wiping the remaining tears off of his face. "Sonic's job was to stop Eggman," Shadow mumbled, seriously. He stood, glowering. "I will FINISH IT for him!" he declared, his eyes becoming wide with rage. Silver stood up, helping Amy off the ground. "We'll help you!" he said, and Amy nodded in agreement. "I'm gonna crack Eggman wide open!" Knuckles roared, enraged. "Let's do this...for Sonic!" Tails said. "For Sonic!" they all cried in unison. Tails sniffed. "I won't forgive Eggman this time!" He shouted, more tears streaming down. "Let's go!" The five friends ran out.

     As they began to leave, Sonic's hand seemed to move the slightest bit. Amy noticed and turned around. "Sonic?" Tails came and took her hand. "Come on, Amy," he said gently. Amy could feel Tails' hand trembling. She let herself be taken out of the room, but she kept her eyes on her friend the whole time. Did Sonic... Move? She began to think that it was just her imagination, driven by her desperate want to believe that Sonic, somehow, was still alive. Was it? She didn't know for sure.

     Meanwhile the others were confronting Eggman. "You're gonna regret what ya did, Egghead!" Knuckles roared. "You're going down!" Shadow and Silver cried in unison. Eggman smirked, and signaled large numbers of robotic troops to attack Sonic's friends. Amy took out her hammer. "Let's do this," she said grimly. Shadow's hands began to glow, as did Silver's entire body. "ATTACK!" Knuckles shouted.

     The friends took down Eggman's robots easily. "All right!" Silver whooped. "We did it!" They turned towards Eggman, who seemed to be cowering. He backed up into his computer chair, which transformed into his egg-shaped hovercraft, and he started to fly off. He would've escaped if Silver hadn't stopped him. "Get back here, Eggman!" Silver demanded, throwing him backwards.

     Eggman landed on the ground with a thud. Silver towered over him. "It's time to finish this!" he shouted, glowing. "No, wait! Stop!" called a voice. Everybody turned around in shock. Could it be...?

     "SONIC!!" Everybody ran over, laughing and crying all at once. The blue hedgehog walked into the room, chuckling a tad. "You guys are having a party without me?" he asked coolly, as his friends gathered around him, forcing him into a huge group hug. Knuckles seemed enraged. "Don't you scare us like that again, ya hear?!" Amy teared up. "We thought you were dead!" Sonic grinned. "Guess you guys came just in time." His voice became serious. "Thanks, you guys."

     Silver looked up. "Hey! Eggman's getting away!" "Eh, let him go. He's not worth our time." Tails pushed forward and squeezed Sonic with all his might. Shadow just smiled. Sonic felt so happy to be alive--and to know that his friends cared that much about him. When he got the chance, he embraced each one of them individually.

     For a while, everything was great. Then Shadow realized something, and looked slightly worried. "I had totally forgotten... Eggman knows we had the relic! He must be going after it! Come on, everyone! Come close!" They obeyed quickly. "Back to the house!" Shadow shouted. "Chaos... CONTROL!"

     They arrived back at Tails' lab, and they found Eggman rummaging through Tails' belongings, searching desperately for the artifact. Sonic dashed in front of him as he ran to search another room. "Going somewhere, Eggy?" Eggman gasped. "Sonic! Um, I was just-" Sonic glared. "About to steal our artifact? Get him, guys!"

     Amy ran forward. "This is for almost killing Sonic! HIYA!!" She smashed him through the ceiling, far, far, away. "Nice one, Amy!" Sonic grinned. She giggled and curtsied. "Thank you!"

     Knuckles picked up the artifact. "Let's put this in a safer place." "Okay, but then can we eat? I'm starving!" Sonic whined, a loud growl coming from his stomach. Tails walked into the kitchen. "What'cha want, Sonic?" he asked, as he looked in the pantry. Sonic grinned. "Chili dogs!!" Amy sweat-dropped. "What? It's my favorite food!" Knuckles opened the fridge. "Do we have any grapes?"

     The bright orange fox looked through the pantry, then announced, "I found some chili!" and brought it over to his can opener. Sonic sat down at the table, anxiously tapping his fingers. The fox fixed Sonic's food, then came over to the table, Sonic bouncing up and down like an excited child. "Hurry up!" he whined. Tails set the plate down, Sonic reaching for it the whole time. As soon as the plate touched the table, Sonic stuffed the chili dog in his mouth. Tails laughed a little bit as Sonic licked the chili off of his fingers. "Looks like nearly getting killed didn't affect his appetite." he said, smiling playfully.