Don't Give In
Dawn surfaced from the water, having done enough swimming for now. She was in unfamiliar woodlands, not unlike the forest at home. She kept her eyes peeled for any sort of clue on how to escape this world, but she had no idea what she was looking for.
How am I going to get out of here? she thought hopelessly.
Suddenly, something grabbed her from behind. Dawn jerked her arm forward and saw that what looked like a tree root had clung to her. She cut it away with her knuckle spike, but the moment it was gone, all of the trees around her suddenly came to life, terrifying faces forming on their trunks, and reached for Dawn with their arm-like branches. Fortunately, they were slow-moving, and Dawn sped away from them quite easily. She thought she would escape them when she tripped over a root that had suddenly risen from the ground, and the hostile trees leaned in to grab her.
But then a rope that glowed yellow lowered in front of her, and Dawn immediately grabbed it, recognizing it as Tails' enerbeam. She was pulled into the air onto Tails' plane, and the fox flew them away from the calm-turned-aggressive woodlands.
"Tails! Oh, am I glad to see you!" Dawn exclaimed with relief, but then she doubted her words. She badly wanted him to be the friend she knew and cared about, but given what her parents turned out to be, she had a feeling he wasn't real, either. She would keep her guard up around him-he could turned on her at any moment.
"It's good to see you too, Dawn." Tails said. There was no hint in his words to indicate that he was a hostile of this world, but Dawn wouldn't let that fool her. "I was just flying by and I noticed that you were in trouble, so I flew in to help you. But man, I didn't expect those trees to suddenly come to life. Crazy, huh?"
"Yeah, crazy." Dawn said, trying to keep the doubt out of her voice.
"And it's not just that. Amy and I fled the village after it turned into a madhouse." Tails said. "We're taking refuge with Sticks on the other side of the island. You should join us until we figure out how to get the village back to normal."
Dawn felt like this had to be a trap. A plan made by evils that resembled her friends to get her alone and vulnerable. But if that were the case, saying no would make them suspicious of her, so she went along with it.
Ready to fight if she had to.
Eggman, Charlie, and Belinda's sadistic view of Dawn's struggle was interrupted when Cubot entered the laboratory. "Uh, Boss, we've got a problem." he said anxiously.
"You fix it. I'm busy watching Dawn's impending doom." Eggman dismissed, not looking away from the screen.
"It's urgent, sir." Cubot insisted.
Eggman groaned in annoyance. "What could possibly be such a big issue that I have to look away from-"
The laboratory door was suddenly blown down, and Shadow emerged from the smoke not looking amused, making Eggman's attitude change entirely.
"Sh-Shadow! Uh, h-hey there, Shadow. W-What brings you here?" he asked nervously.
"Don't play foolish, you know why I'm here." Shadow said sharply. "Tell me how to save Dawn."
"That little brat?" Belinda asked sullenly. "Why waste your time with her?"
"She's nothing but a persistent little pest, just like her parents." Charlie added.
"How dare you!" Shadow snapped at them. "You don't see what I see in her, you don't even know her! She's kind, brave, adventurous, daring. She's shown me the greatness and importance in things I used to look down upon. She's a wonderful girl, and I promised I would do everything I could to protect her." He addressed Eggman. "Which is why you're going to tell me how to wake her up right now."
With the mention of Dawn and the challenge in Shadow's voice, Eggman's earlier nervousness faded. "I'm afraid you won't get it that easily, Shadow." he said, and pressed a button on the control panel. From the opening where the door used to be crawled several Badniks. Fueled by anger and determination, Shadow jumped straight into battle.
"Sonic, would you please stop pacing?" Amy asked. Team Sonic-the real Team Sonic in the real Hedgehog Village-had gathered at Amy's for another leisurely afternoon in an attempt to take their minds off of the lack of contact from Dawn. But Sonic started pacing five minutes after arriving. "It's only adding to our anxiety."
"C'mon, guys. There could be a number of reasons why Dawn hasn't responded to our calls." Tails said. "She could've lost her communicator, or it broke during a battle. We can't just assume something serious happened."
Sonic sighed and sat down next to Knuckles. "I just can't stand not knowing how she's doing." he said. He clenched his fists. "I swear, if Shadow let something happen to her-"
"Sonic, stop." Knuckles said firmly, but gently. "Tails is right, we can't assume that something bad happened to Dawn."
"We've gotta keep our faith in Shadow and hope that everything's fine." Sticks added.
Sonic looked back and forth between the team before sighing again. "I know, guys. I know I need to think positively for Dawn's sake." He leaned into Knuckles' embrace, tears forming in his eyes. "I just wish someone would confirm that our daughter's okay." he said.
Team Sonic exchanged looks of concern. Despite their agreeance to stay positive, they shared their leader's agony of not knowing about Dawn's well-being.
Shadow spindashed the final Badnik to pieces, adding to the many others that had built up over the battle. "It's over, Eggman. Now tell me how to save Dawn." he said.
"Oh, I wouldn't be so sure of that, Shadow." Eggman said mischievously.
A strong blow to the head suddenly knocked Shadow back several feet. After shaking off the daze, he saw that Metal Sonic had attacked him, repaired and combat-ready.
"As you can see, I fixed Metal Sonic up after yours and Dawn's tussle with him." Eggman said. "In his torso compartment is a syringe filled with the serum I created that he injected Dawn with. She's trapped inside a nightmarish version of Seaside Island, and the only way to escape is for her to face her fears and win. If you defeat Metal Sonic and inject yourself with the serum, you'll enter that world with her. But I should warn you, he won't make it that easy for you to get to her. Good luck."
Metal Sonic shot straight towards Shadow with his fist raised, but Shadow ducked out of the punch's range and swept the robot's legs out from beneath him. The hedgehog tried to stomp in between Metal Sonic's eyes, but the robot activated his jet boosters and sped upwards, so Shadow only caught his right leg, doing moderate damage. Shadow leaned to the left to dodge the rocket fired at him, and Metal Sonic shot up the laboratory's transportation tube towards the roof. Shadow followed close behind and now stood before his enemy on the more open battlefield.
Hold on, Dawn. I'm coming, Shadow thought before continuing the fight.