Into the Blue
After making their way out of the pit, Dawn and Shadow rode the Purple Lightning along the south of Seaside Island until dark. They were now resting on a beach overlooked by a sort of purification plant. They sat in silence watching the moonlight ripple on the water until Dawn's communicator buzzed. She was getting a call from her parents.
"Hi, Mom! Hi, Dad!" Shadow tensed up-he didn't know how Sonic would react to him being with his daughter. He wondered if he should tell Dawn to not say he was there. "A lot's happened for me today! I fought Eggman again-and beat him again-and I met Charlie for the first time and fought him, too."
"Wow, that sounds like an exciting day, Dawn!" Sonic said.
"Wait, you met Charlie?" Knuckles sounded concerned. "Did he hurt you? Are you okay?"
"I'm fine, Dad. Charlie didn't hurt me, although I did get some minor burns at a volcano. But they were treated by my new friend I met today, Shadow the Hedgehog."
Shadow flinched, anticipating Sonic's response. For a few long seconds, there was dead silence on the blue hedgehog's end, then he asked with a nervous laugh, "D-Did you say Shadow the Hedgehog, s-sweetie?"
"I know that may come as a surprise to you, Mom, but I promise, he hasn't done anything to hurt me. He told me that he was watching over me to make sure I was alright, and he decided to join me."
Sonic's voice still carried uncertainty. "Oh. Okay, well, can I speak to him?"
"Sure. He's right here." Dawn held her communicator close to Shadow so he could speak into it. The dark hedgehog forced his words out in as steady a voice he could manage, lest he sound nervous in the presence of his rival.
"Uh, hey, Shadow. So...you, uh, you treating my daughter right?"
"Of course. I'm doing everything in my power to protect her."
"Great. Well, just, uh, just make sure you keep at it, okay?"
"Yes, Sonic. I will."
"Anyway, we'll call you tomorrow, Dawn." Knuckles cut in. "Keep her safe, Shadow. G'night, you two."
"Good night, Dad. Good night, Mom." Dawn hung up.
Shadow sighed and looked down at the sand. "I hope your mother trusts me in doing this." he said. "To think that I've voluntarily put your life in my hands, and without his knowing or consent."
"I could definitely tell it came as a shock to him." Dawn said. "I bet he didn't expect anyone to help me on this journey, let alone his rival." She smiled and placed her hand on top of Shadow's. "But you know, Shadow? Maybe you doing this for me will show him that you can be trusted, at least to some extent."
Shadow quickly glanced up at Dawn-surprised by her words-then looked down at her hand resting on his. "Dawn, I..." He couldn't think of what to say for several seconds, but then he looked back up and said with a small smile, "Thank you."
Dawn smiled in return, then glanced down at their joined hands. She suddenly felt very shy and pulled her hand away. She wondered what had caused her to feel this way. Maybe it was what she had said to Shadow, but it wasn't unlike anything she had told him already. For whatever reason, this one short but reassuring speech had caused unknown feelings involving Shadow to stir inside of her.
As much as she wanted to explore and possibly discover these feelings, Dawn decided to ignore them for now and focus of her trial. "That's two days down. Day Three starts tomorrow."
"Right. Well then, we should get some rest so we're ready in the morning." Shadow said.
The two laid down on the silken sand, and they were soon lulled close to sleep with the sound of gentle waves rolling. Shortly before drifting off, Dawn turned onto her side, watching her sleeping companion. She thought about reaching out and gently brushing his cheek-though she didn't know why. Instead, she smiled at him and fell asleep herself, content with knowing that someone was watching over her.
Back at Hedgehog Village, Sonic sat in his and Knuckles bedroom, sorting his thoughts out. Knuckles appeared in the doorway, leaning against the frame.
"Alright, c'mon, hun. You weren't fooling us back there." he said. He sat down beside Sonic and put his arm around him. "Is it because Shadow is with Dawn?" he asked more gently.
"Yeah." Sonic said.
"Are you worried he's gonna hurt her? Babe, she's been taking on bad guys for two days now, she can totally hold her own against that guy."
"It's not that. It's just...I wasn't expecting it. I didn't think Shadow would do anything so genuine for me, much less watch over Dawn."
"Yeah, none of us expected that. But he's making sure Dawn doesn't get hurt. We've gotta give him that much."
"I do. I just...I just don't want him to crush her feelings later. A broken heart is the hardest wound to heal."
"I get that, baby. I don't want her to get hurt like that, either. But you heard the guy, he promised he'd do everything he could to protect her. We just have to trust him to do that."
Sonic nodded. "Yeah. But if he does end up hurting her," Sonic punched his fist into his open palm, "he'll have a couple of angry parents to answer to."
Sonic shook his head at his husband's stupidity, but pulled him in for an embrace and a quick kiss.
"Wait a minute." Knuckles spoke up after a while. "How can a broken heart be healed if it's inside the body?" Sonic just sighed.
The next morning, Dawn and Shadow woke up bright and early, ready to start the third day of her journey. As Dawn was about to convert the Purple Lightning into motorcycle form, a mechanical buzzing sound came from overhead. A small insectoid robot flew towards them, and Dawn recognized it.
"Bea!" she cried happily. The magenta stripped Bee Bot flew into her open arms and nuzzled her, affectionately buzzing.
"You know this robot?" Shadow asked.
"She's my friend Amy's pet Bee Bot." Dawn explained. "Amy took her in and nursed her back to health after she was injured in battle." Her communicator buzzed. "Oh, just a sec. Hello?"
"Hiya, Dawn." Tails said on the other end. "How's everything going for you and Shadow?"
"Great. We were about to get going to our next stop right now."
"Have you thought about seeing what's underwater?"
"That's actually a clever idea. Do you agree, Dawn?" said Shadow.
"Yeah, I love going underwater. But we don't have any way to get there."
"Well, I figured you'd want to try it, so I made high-tech wet suits for you and Shadow-they're similar to the ones we used to fight Eggman. I sent Bea to drop them off." Bea held out a black cardboard box she carried in her appendages.
"Wow, thanks, Tails!" Dawn said as Shadow took the box. "We'll definitely put them to good use."
"I have no doubt about that. Catch you later!" Tails hung up.
"Thanks for bringing us the suits, Bea. See you at home." Dawn said. Bea buzzed happily and flew off.
Shadow set the box down on the sand and opened it. Inside were two wet suits, one purple and one black, with two sets of diving masks, air hoses, oxygen tanks, and flippers. When they were fully suited up, they submerged themselves into the rising water together, then dove under.
It was nearly dark beneath the waves, but Dawn and Shadow could make out the entrance to some type of underwater cavern. The inner walls were covered in what looked like writing in an ancient language. Dawn wondered what they said. I bet Amy could translate them if she were here, she thought.
They exited the cavern, and the outside took Dawn's breath away. They were in a magnificent coral reef-underwater plant life flowed gracefully in the water, fish of every kind and color swam calmly by. Everything looked so vibrant and alive.
"Isn't it gorgeous, Shadow?" Dawn asked.
"Yes. I must admit, it's beautiful." Shadow agreed.
"If Mom was here, he'd probably be panicking." Dawn said as they continued swimming. "Dad told me once that, before they went to fight Eggman underwater, Mom tested out the new wet suit Tails made for him, and a tiny little fish swam up to him and nudged him in the side." She burst out laughing. "And Mom freaked out! He screamed like a girl and started frantically paddling. He even described himself as 'a fish out of water in water.' "
"I would expect that from your aqua-phobic mother." Shadow said.
They kept swimming until they came to what looked like an underwater storage area, with glass tubes and metallic components everywhere. Dawn wondered if it was a part of the purification plant they saw last night. They swam through pipes, vats containing a strange green liquid, and more tubes leading to the ocean. They could see a platform above them and swam towards it.
They surfaced above water into a long corridor lined with large windows and lit up with green lights. Now on dry land, the pair changed out of their wet suits and stored them in an electronic storage component Shadow happened to have with him. They were about to debate which end of the corridor to walk down when a deafening siren suddenly blared out, and from a sliding wall in the ceiling emerged an massive ellipsoid robot. Its rounded body was made from red, black, and brown metal, it had small red eyes, rotating saw blades on its front and through its middle, and half a dozen clawed tentacles. Its tiny eyes focused on Dawn and Shadow, and it lunged its tentacles at them, which they dodged just in time.
"Let's move, Dawn!" Shadow called out. They took off running down one end of the corridor, with the robot following close behind them, fast despite its massive size. It shot another tentacle at the duo, to which Shadow reacted by shoving Dawn out of the way. The robot stood over them, but Dawn stepped up to face it, motioning for Shadow to stay back.
She raised her fist and pounded the ground, creating a powerful shock wave and opening a hole that sent the robot plummeting to a lower level. She and Shadow looked down where the robot fell for a few seconds.
"What a handy ability." Shadow finally said.
"Got it from my dad." Dawn said, flexing her arm. "Jeez, what was with that thing? It just attacked us out of nowhere."
"An alarm when off when we surfaced-we must've disturbed a sort of security system." Shadow suggested. "It probably thought we were intruding and sent the robot after us. We should find and disable it."
"So, that wasn't one of Eggman's creations." Dawn said as they walked on. "I admit, I'm a little disappointed, although it was a step up from what I've faced so far. Even Eggman's giant robot didn't pose much of a challenge."
"I believe that even without my help, you would've fared just fine against it." Shadow complimented, making Dawn smile.
After quite a bit of searching, the pair eventually came to a control room equipped with security cameras and a control panel. Dawn let Shadow handle disabling the alarm, since he was more handy with electronics than she was, although she did think it would be more simple to just destroy it. After pressing some buttons, the alarms outside abruptly stopped, indicating that Shadow had successfully shut them off.
But just seconds later, the floor beneath them split as giant saw blades suddenly cut through it, separating them. The huge ellipsoid robot from before had returned from its earlier fall, still intent on exterminating the intruders. Dawn grabbed one of the tentacles that shot out towards her and ripped it out. The others soon followed, but this time Dawn held them in place, and Shadow spindashed onto her side and into the restrained tentacles, cutting clean through them. Dawn punched the now-limbless robot between the eyes, making a large hole and sending sparks flying. The weakened robot staggered back a few feet before dropping to the floor and powering off.
It was only then that Dawn noticed a small, blinking devise implanted in its side. She leaned in close to examine it, and a voice suddenly spoke through a speaker built inside.
Dawn was startled, then angered as she recognized the voice. "Eggman!"
"That's right. And judging by the Tunnel-bot's coding information I'm no longer receiving, I assume you and Shadow have destroyed it."
"Yes, we did." Shadow replied. "So, this was your doing."
"How did you find us?" Dawn asked.
"I had one of my Flybots track your location, and that's when I learned you two were going underwater. I figured you would find your way to the purification plant, so I hacked into the security system and had Orbot and Cubot implant the control devises on the Tunnel-bots. Clever, right?"
"Definitely clever, but not enough to stop us. Shadow's disabled the security system, so your plan was in vain."
"Oh, was it?" From deep within the purification plant, a loud crash could be heard, muffled by distance and metal walls. "I've just activated the other two Tunnel-bots, they're out to get you right now. Good luck escaping the plant, and the robots, of course. Ta-ta!" There was a slight burst of static as Eggman hung up.
Shadow took Dawn's hand and teleported them both to a dock overlooked by a type of fortress. Sitting in the water was a modified submarine with just enough room in the cockpit for two people. Dawn sat in the back while Shadow piloted up front. They submerged and swam through more of the underwater tunnels they had seen that morning.
But suddenly, the submarine abruptly stopped, as if halted by force. Shadow activated a rear-view camera screen, and he and Dawn saw that it was the other two Tunnel-bots. They had grabbed the submarine by the two ballast tanks on the sides, stopping them in their tracks. Shadow tried speeding up to pull themselves free, but was unsuccessful. The robots began pulling them in, buzzing saw blades at the ready.
"Foolish machines!" Shadow spat. He activated one of the submarine's guns and shot two torpedoes at the Tunnel-bots. The torpedoes weren't very fast, but luckily the robots were more focused on their enemies than the incoming shots. Both were hit dead-on and blown to almost nothing.
Now freed, Shadow resumed their swim through hopefully calmer waters, with less foes. Dawn leaned back in her seat with a sigh and breathed, "That was close." Shadow nodded wordlessly, but while he didn't show it, he shared her relief.