AUTHOR'S NOTE: As of yesterday, SEGA has announced the official cancellation of the Archie Sonic comics. I dedicate today's chapter in memory of all those who worked so hard on the series.
Shadow worked hard to bring Sonic home, though it took hours, as Sonic's body had been quite heavy, even for the ultimate life form. His laser wound didn't slow him down, as it was already beginning to heal up, thanks to his ultimate healing properties. He took him straight to Rotor's workshop, begging for help to try and bring him back.
Rotor had taken Sonic in, asking Shadow to go get Uncle Chuck and Tails for help, before the black hedgehog reported to Princess Sally about the success of the mission in Robotropolis, at the cost of Sonic's life.
Sally had went in to see Sonic for herself, visibly upset by Sonic's sacrifice and demanded for the three to work as hard as possible to fix him.
Shadow watched the scene with longing eyes. He wanted so much for Sonic to be okay...he wanted to be friends with him in this timeline. He couldn't lose him now!
Suddenly Shadow pushed his fist into the wall of the workshop, making a dent into the metal, angry at himself. He squeezed his eyes tightly.
The four of them looked up at Shadow in startlement, seeing how visibly upset he was.
Sally was the first to approach him. She tried her best to look into his face, to study Shadow's pain. That's when she saw something for the first time.
“...you....you care about him...don't you?”
Shadow finally looked up, clear pain in his eyes. “I want...WANTED...to protect him...I wanted things to be...DIFFERENT....this time.”
Sally reached for Shadow's hand and grasped it, gently tugging to pull him over to some chairs nearby. “Come sit with me.”
Wary, Shadow eventually sat down in a chair, as Sally joined him. She looked at him. “Now then...what do you mean by different?”
Shadow closed his eyes and inhaled, taking time to collect himself. “If you had any reason not to trust me, I don't blame you. Sonic and I were not friends in the future. We were rivals. He was always good natured about it, always willing to race or fight me. Me? I was rather irritated by his nature. I just wanted to beat him, to beat the smirk off his face. But I respected him at least, and knew when he was...useful.”
Sally frowned as she listened to Shadow's words, appreciating how honest he was being right now. “...but?”
“But...” Shadow sighed, looking down, and clasping his hands together in thought, murmuring, “But but but but....” He inhaled once again and looked at him. “...when I came here, and I saw him...saw what I had done to him...I don't know...it's like...something in me changed. I wanted to make sure he was okay. I wanted...I wanted to protect him...I wanted a fresh start with him....I wanted to be friends with him...”
Shadow looked at Sally for a moment, a softness in his eyes flickering that she saw before looked down. “I haven't given a shit about anyone ever since Maria...um...someone I knew...was killed. I respect the team I work with...but...I just didn't really care about...ANYTHING. I live to forfil and respect the wishes of Maria, which was to protect the planet and ensure the others can live their lives in peace.” He looked back up at Sally. “That...now...has since changed.”
“You care about Sonic,” Sally concluded.
Shadow nodded, closing his eyes, leaning his head back and sighing. “As I said, something's changed ever since I came here. I don't know why...but now...I want to be friends with him.”
Sally watched Shadow with deep thought. “I guess, in the end, that's ultimately Sonic's decision. I mean, knowing him, he'll definitely want to be friends with you. You mentioned you two race?”
Shadow looked at her, nodding. “All the time. I'm the only one who can keep up with him.”
She smiled, a bit wryly. “He loves being able to race...”
Shadow nodded in agreement before a call from Tails drew their attention. “Uh...guys?”
Shadow and Sally both stood up and looked over to where Tails, Chuck and Rotor were all staring at a monitor on the wall.
“What, what is it?” Sally asked.
Tails pointed to text lines on the screen. “Look at this.”
Shadow nearly pushed them out of the way to get a good look at what Tails was pointing to.
On the screen, a line of text read, “CPU BACK ONLINE. AWAITING INPUT.”
“Input? What input?” Rotor asked, scratching his head.
Suddenly the line repeated itself. Shadow grabbed at Rotor's shoulder, silencing him as he stared at the screen, trying to think.
Nearly a minute of silence passed before Rotor spoke. “Shadow-”
Suddenly the line repeated itself again, causing Shadow to interrupt Rotor. “SHH! Everyone be quiet for 5 minutes. I want to see something.”
Within the span of 5 minutes, the line repeated itself exactly once every minute, with Shadow getting more excited with every post. Finally he spoke. “It's him. Either him, or the nanites. Either way, its automated.”
Tails snapped his fingers. “Right. If he has no sensors connected to his processor, he has no way to know if anyone is helping him. We need to connect and give him a response.”
“I'm on it,” Chuck said, already working on opening the side of Sonic's head and beginning to connect some wires from an exposed computer chip to his computer. “If this works, his processor should sense the computer as a communication device. I'll open ports so he can take control of it.”
Shadow was actually smiling a bit, laying a hand on Sonic's chest plate. “Don't worry buddy, we're going to get you running again.”
A hand fell on Shadow's shoulder, and he looked back to see Sally smiling softly at him. He nodded respectfully to her before turning his attention back to Sonic.
Once hooked up, Chuck began to type on the computer. A simple command would be enough to let Sonic know that they could hear him. “SAFE.”
It took only a moment for a response, and boy was it a doozy as a set of instructions and diagrams began to appear on screen. Shadow looked in. “Whoa, what is all that?”
Chuck was positively excited. “They're detailed instructions on how to reboot Sonic safely and get him running again.”
The room seemed to erupt in cheers. Shadow could only sit there, smiling softly as he looked to Sonic. “...see you soon, buddy...”
Sonic's visual receptors came on, and began to look around, seeing his friends, and even Shadow standing around him. He gave a soft smile. “...hey gang...”
“Sonic!” They all spoke softly, some hugging him. Rotor looked to Sonic. “Sonic, how did you survive an EMP wave? Your circuits should have been fried.”
“Well, being on the edge of the city helped,” Sonic spoke, trying to sit up. “The EMP was just weak enough by that point to not be as effective.”
“If that's so, then what about Commander Cor and the rest of the robots?” Shadow asked.
“They would need to be repaired in order to come online again, as you guys did with me, and that would take them a lot longer since they can't provide instructions like I did. But I will say this: the EMP would likely not penetrate to the robots working in the underground areas, so...” He looked to Sally. “We need to be careful when we make that excursion into the city.”
Sally nodded. “As always, we'll be careful.”
“There's just one thing I need answered,” Shadow spoke up. “I saw Commander Cor blast the EMP bomb you had made. So what gives?”
“That...heh...that was just the casing. I wanted to trick Cor into thinking he destroyed the device...” Sonic grinned a bit.
Shadow blinked a second before he groaned and covered his face. “Bait and switch...and I fell for it!”
Sonic laughed a bit. “Hey, it helped make things believable.”
Shadow finally turned to the others. “Hey...can I have a moment alone with Sonic?”
After practically hearing Shadow's griefing to Sallyearlier, the others nodded in understanding, before leaving the room for a bit.
Sonic looked to Shadow as he sighed. “What's on your mind, Shadow?”
“I...I wanted to tell you the truth...about us...”
“You mean the part about us being rivals?” Sonic asked.
Shadow looked at Sonic in alarm. “How-”
Sonic tapped his temple. “These guys...which by the way, helped protect my CPU during the EMP wave. They didn't say TOO much, but they did explain the files they had on you to me, when I really wanted to know who you really were.”
“So...” Shadow started. “You knew we were rivals...” He sighed and turned away, rubbing his temples. “...so much for starting over...”
A metallic hand fell on Shadow's shoulder. He turned to look back at Sonic as he spoke. “...but you already did, Shadow. I could tell that you were struggling and really wanted us to get along...and it worked.”
Shadow blinked. “It...it did?”
Sonic nodded with a smile. “I'd be proud to be friends with you. You're a good guy, Shadow. I can see it.”
Shadow smiled softly after a moment. “Friends...I like that...”
“Me too...” Sonic nodded. “The fact I finally got someone to REALLY race with is just icing on the cake. I love a good competition.”
Shadow smirked a bit. “Heh...think you can still keep up with me in a race?”
“Tch, you're on! Soon as I can get unhooked from this table, we can race to Robotropolis and-”
“Uh uh-” Shadow said, covering his mouth. “We had enough adventures in Robotropolis for one day. Let's wait until Sally prepares the excursion before we go back.”
Sonic pulled Shadow's hand off his mouth, grinning sheepishly. “Point taken. But you still owe me a race...buddy.”
Shadow could only smile at this. “Yeah...buddy...”
THE END FOR NOW
NEXT - Temporal Shadow: First Contact