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 Post subject: Re: Lost Impact
PostPosted: Tue Sep 28, 2010 3:44 am 
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More attempts on my part to explain various plot developments in canon. (Spoilers for the Shadow the Hedgehog game and the following chapter) I really don't think Black Doom announced to Gerald that he wanted the Chaos Emeralds so he could feed all of Earth's inhabitants to his offpsring, and I equally doubt Gerald would just go along with that and enlist Black Doom's help anyway just to create Shadow. It's also shown in the Final Story cutscenes that Gerald knew what Black Doom was planning and created the Eclipse Cannon for the sole purpose of thwarting him. So in this interpretation, Black Doom leaves out the reason he wants the Emeralds for, and Gerald eventually deduces it and leaves both the Cannon and video instructions telling Shadow what to do if what he suspects does in fact happen.

You don't really need to know all that to understand the fic, hopefully.

~~~

XIV

The farther he got with his research on the hedgehog, the more apprehensive Gerald became. None of the bacterial cultures had managed to affect his cells in any way, and the viruses didn't seem to be able to infect them. He had not yet tried every disease he had access to, but he was sure none of the others would prove any more effective. It did indeed seem Shadow was completely immune to any affliction Earth could throw at him.

Additionally, the cells were still not aging. If they were stimulated enough, they could divide, but upon reaching a mature size, they simply continued to function indefinitely. Gerald had never heard of such a thing happening. Of course, if he were trying to create an immortal being, such a result was desirable, but the professor couldn't shake his feeling of unease whenever he glimpsed the tidy charts of identical data readings.

He told himself several times that it wasn't Shadow himself who unnerved him. No, the hedgehog was benign enough. For all that he sounded like an adult, he was still practically a newborn, his mind young and open. With Maria taking care of him, Gerald had no doubt Shadow would grow to be as caring as she was.

It was Black Doom, the one Shadow inherited his characteristics from, that he worried about. That alien had already had millennia to forge his own ideas of the universe and his place in it, and Gerald was convinced he would not like the eventual conclusion. During his visits to the ARK before the Comet moved too far away, Black Doom had seemed a trifle too interested in their planet for someone who had been passing it by for thousands of years, asking questions about the world population, demographics, typical food chains, and so on. When asked why he wished to know those things, he always claimed simple curiosity.

In those brief discussions, Gerald was able to learn some things as well. Black Doom had confided to him some information regarding himself and his offspring, collectively named the Black Arms. Gerald learned that each Black Arms alien was more or less spawned directly from Black Doom himself, although they had a wide variety of adult forms that didn't even faintly resemble their parent. All of them lived on the Black Comet, which was otherwise devoid of other life.

Black Doom had neglected to mention the food source of his spawn.

Gerald was beginning to get some idea of what Black Doom might want the seven Chaos Emeralds for. In case his suspicions proved to be true, he began planning a weapon that could be used to counter the Black Arms, to be powered by the very objects they coveted. Although they were not his forte, he soon developed a design he was satisfied with. Carefully, secretly, he began wiring its main control panel, stationed in the exact center of the ARK's main computer room. No one went there aside from himself, since the space colony's important functions could be accessed from the smaller computer in the largest common room.

He was in the midst of devising a method to integrate his new weapon into the surface of the ARK one morning when a small hand laid itself on his elbow. He jerked and looked down, finding Maria standing next to him. Shadow trailed behind her, looking curiously up at him. As he stammered greetings to them both, he surreptitiously looked the hedgehog up and down in surprise. In the one week since meeting Maria, Shadow appeared to have opened up. His eyes, although still giving no hint of his thoughts, were less cold, and his expression was content rather than cautious or blank.

"We were wondering what you were doing, Grandfather," Maria told Gerald after he'd finished talking. "You've been sleeping late and waking early too often of late." She caught sight of his scribblings on the table. "What's this?"

"Oh, ah...it's a, a..." he stammered, finding himself at a loss for words. Not something that happened often.

Shadow stood on his toes in order to get a better look. "It looks like a weapon," he told Maria. "A cannon, perhaps." Gerald stared at the hedgehog.

"Where did you learn about cannons?" he wanted to know. Shadow shrugged.

"The word felt right," he replied. Gerald shook his head, then caught sight of Maria's expression. It looked accusing.

"No, no, the government isn't making me create weapons for them," he reassured her hastily. "They've upheld that end of the agreement. I, uh, just thought the ARK ought to have some form of self-defense, since right now it doesn't have any."

"That's good," Maria breathed in relief. "They know how much you hate violence, Grandpa, but I was afraid..." She shook her head, then smiled again. "Well, if this is going to protect everyone on the space colony, is there anything we can do to help?"

"Help?" repeated Gerald, once more left speechless.

"You do tend to try doing everything by yourself, Grandfather," giggled Maria. "It was Shadow's idea, actually. He noticed first that you were losing sleep over something, and that you were lost in thought a lot of the time in the lab, even if it didn't seem you were doing anything." Gerald blinked, glancing again at the hedgehog. Shadow was studiously examining the nearest table leg, not looking at them.

Who would've thought he was still that observant, Gerald mused. Although I suppose that's not surprising...what, did I expect him to become less observant the more he got used to us? "That was...nice of you, Shadow," he finally managed to say.

"Just trying to be of help, Professor," Shadow replied, meeting his eyes with a small, hesitant smile. Gerald chuckled. Before he really knew what he was doing, he had reached down and patted Shadow on the head. Shadow jerked and looked startled. Gerald felt rather surprised, himself. Maria simply looked pleased.

"Ah...That was help enough," he muttered awkwardly. "Now, uh...would you two like to accompany me to the main part of the ARK? Now that this isn't a secret anymore, I'd like to recruit a few people. What I have in mind is quite complex."

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 Post subject: Re: Lost Impact
PostPosted: Wed Sep 29, 2010 3:40 am 
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I'd often wondered just how Gerald installed the Eclipse Cannon on the ARK, so I decided to make Shadow have a hand in its construction. He and the other anthros in StH continuity have often run around on space ships or just in plain outer space without adverse effect, plus he has alien blood in him, so I figured that'd make him a pretty handy worker.

I also figured he would have to find out he can Chaos Control sometime or another, since I doubt he knew he could do so immediately after he was created. I can only hope that my explanation of how he uses it makes sense...

~~~

XV

As it turned out, Shadow was more helpful than he thought he would be. As the shortest mature member of their construction group--mentally, he wasn't an adult, but he wasn't a careless child either--he was able to get into much smaller places than the humans could. As a result, some of the wiring and construction in the tightest places were left up to him. He learned quickly, at a rate that didn't particularly startle him but clearly astounded the lab workers.

They quickly discovered that Shadow was physically capable of feats no one else could manage. The Professor's reaction was nearly comical when the hedgehog simply picked up and walked off with a stack of steel beams twice as long as he was tall. Quick measurements afterward soon revealed his limits. He could lift objects up to nearly three times his mass, and he could still move those that were even heavier.

The Professor had wanted to use the spire on the face of the ARK as the nozzle for his cannon, since it already had desirable dimensions. That was when they discovered that one of Shadow's innate abilities was to survive in outer space without any transition zone or special equipment. It had been completely accidental; one moment, he was crawling down a narrow duct the length of the spire, checking for breaches. The next moment, he was outside, on the surface of the space colony itself.

Everyone inside the colony had panicked until he managed to convince them that he was fine and that he hadn't really noticed anything wrong before falling from an unnoticed trap door. His job for the rest of that day was to seal the trap door so no one going in that direction would incur the same fate, with much more fatal results. Life went back to normal afterward, but Shadow now also did all necessary construction or repair on the outside of the ARK.

The Professor had given up by now on the disease testing, since it was obvious nothing worked. Instead, he wanted to know what Shadow could do. Survive in outer space, certainly, and lift objects much heavier than himself, but the man believed that perhaps those might not be his only abilities. He didn't have to go to the lab at all, now, unless he had found out he could do something new and wished to report it. Nothing of the sort had happened since the accident in the ARK's spire.

When he wasn't helping to build the cannon, he was spending time with Maria. She still told him mostly stories, but he also often kept her company in the kitchen. Having NIDS meant she couldn't eat food prepared by other people, in case they transferred something to her. As a result, she cooked all of her own meals. While she worked, she would teach him how to make various things, from light meals to snacks, that he could then offer to the scientists or to the residents on the ARK.

One day, he was preparing egg and cucumber sandwiches on one end of the counter while she mixed batter for a loaf of bread near the stove. He had just placed the last sandwich on a large platter of them when he heard a faint thud and Maria's gasp. He whirled around. The girl had knocked her elbow against the edge of the counter, causing her to drop the mixing bowl she held. It was her favorite one, a delicate blue and white porcelain thing. If it hit the floor, it would definitely shatter.

He wasn't sure what happened after that.

Time seemed to slow to a crawl as the bowl fell, tipping to one side, while Maria tried to catch it. It slipped out from between her outstretched hands. He reached for it as well, knowing he was much too far away but not wanting any of those shards hurting Maria. With her condition, it may well be fatal.

The next thing he knew, he was standing next to her, his arms wrapped around the bowl. Feeling confused and slightly disoriented, he looked down at it, then back up at Maria. She was staring at him in bewilderment. He glanced behind him and saw his platter of sandwiches, nearly two yards from where he was now. Tentatively, he offered Maria the bowl.

She accepted it and placed it on the counter. Shadow gazed at the floor, not sure if he'd done the right thing or, for that matter, what he had even done. He could tell Maria was watching him.

"Well," she finally said. "I suppose we should go see Grandpa." He looked up at her; she was smiling. "I'm sure you haven't done that before, or you wouldn't look like a bird that just discovered it could fly." Taking his hand, she led him out. He followed without resisting, still dazed.

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 Post subject: Re: Lost Impact
PostPosted: Thu Sep 30, 2010 8:16 pm 
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XVI

It was frustrating for a while. The Professor asked him many questions about what had happened, cross-referencing his replies with Maria's observations. Apparently he had been standing at his counter. The next moment, he had disappeared, then reappeared in time to catch the bowl. Both his disappearance and reappearance were marked by brief flashes of blue light and a soft fizzing sound. The Professor had been very excited to learn this and tried to get Shadow to replicate his teleporting feat.

That was the frustrating part.

Shadow stared at the chair halfway across the room, trying to call to mind what it had been like. He came up blank, repeatedly. "I'm sorry, Professor," he said, exasperated, "but I don't remember anything at all. I was just...there."

The Professor sighed and took his glasses off. Shadow had noticed a while ago that the Professor tended to polish his glasses absentmindedly whenever he wanted time to think. After a moment, he suggested, "Well, never mind what it felt like...what did you feel like? Any particular emotions? What were you thinking?"

Shadow considered it. "I was thinking I didn't want Maria to be upset if she broke her bowl, and I didn't want her to maybe hurt herself when it shattered," he recalled slowly, staring at his hands. "I wanted to catch the bowl before it fell, so none of that would happen." He looked up at the Professor. "And then that's what I did."

"Hrm..." The Professor thought about this for a while longer. "What if you thought with all your might that you wanted to be in that chair? Could you do that?"

"I can try," admitted Shadow, fixing his gaze on the chair once more. He blotted out his surroundings, the spectators, and even Maria, and focused entirely on that one piece of furniture. When there was absolutely nothing else on his mind, he willed himself to move to the chair.

He blinked, feeling suddenly dizzy. The hard tile floor under his feet was gone, replaced by smooth wood. He was perched on the seat of the chair, facing the direction he had come from, and he could see the Professor and, farther back, Maria. They were both beaming proudly. "Congratulations," the man called, applauding. "That was your first deliberate use of Chaos Control."

Shadow got down from the chair, asking, "Chaos Control?"

"A mysterious power that seems to allow its user to instantaneously warp time and space. In other words, it allows teleportation." The Professor jotted a few notes onto his clipboard. "We don't know very much about it, but perhaps with your help, we can learn more." He added in a confidential tone, "You're likely the only creature alive on or around the planet that can use it, you know."

Shadow looked down at himself. "Me, Professor?" he asked doubtfully.

"Oh, Shadow, you're much more talented than you think you are," the Professor replied cheerfully. "Now, let's try that again, but this time the chair will be on the opposite side of the room."

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 Post subject: Re: Lost Impact
PostPosted: Fri Oct 01, 2010 12:47 pm 
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XVII

It wasn't long before Shadow could get wherever he wanted in less time than it took to blink. He no longer needed to think so hard about what he wanted to be doing, either. People began asking him to fetch things they left behind, or to deliver messages both written and spoken, or to check on things they were too busy to examine themselves.

He began to perfect his control over his strange power, jumping to locations not within his line of sight. He once managed to Chaos Control into a room he had never seen before, simply by using descriptions that the Professor gave him. The slight dizziness and exhaustion that he felt immediately after a warp quickly went away as he continued to practice.

Once he was confident in his ability to warp around, he began trying different things. Time had always seemed a little distorted whenever he used Chaos Control. By focusing on that distortion, he found that he was also capable of manipulating time in an area, slowing it down to a standstill if he concentrated hard enough. He then developed two methods of teleportation; one by warping space and moving himself somewhere, the other by freezing time and going somewhere else before releasing it. To other people watching, the two methods looked the same; he still vanished and reappeared somewhere else with twin flashes of blue light.

Within a matter of days, he was attempting to control both space and time at once. The results were not very heartening; he would do one or the other, or lose focus completely and do nothing whatsoever. He was still trying the combined warping method when the Professor found him one morning. "I have something to show you," he said when the hedgehog finally noticed and greeted him. "Come by the lab later today, when you have time to. I think you'll find it interesting." With a nod, the Professor left.

Deciding to satisfy his curiosity rather than frustrate himself any further, Shadow left for the lab after only fifteen more fruitless minutes at his activity. The first thing he saw after walking into the large room was a tight knot of people congregated at one of the lab tables, talking to one another in lowered but excited voices.

When they noticed him, the lab assistants parted to give him a clear view of the table. On it was a gleaming green gemstone, its top face hexagonal, and the sides tapering to a point at the bottom. It rested on a small cushion in a glass case.

The Professor, who was seated at the table next to the gem, looked up and smiled. "This," he began, picking up the case, "is a Chaos Emerald. One of only two that we know of. There are seven in total and are extremely hard to find; the whereabouts of the other five are still unknown."

He set the case down again. "Through various entreaties and favors, I've managed to convince the government that I need one of the Chaos Emeralds for my research. I've had it brought here so that you can take a look at it." He paused, as though thinking of the right words to say. "You can use Chaos Control freely, even though up to this point it had never been used without an Emerald. Perhaps with one, you would be capable of even more."

Shadow stared at the Professor, blinked, then glanced at the gem. "What do you want me to do?" he eventually asked.

The Professor raised his hands in a "I don't know" gesture. "Anything you want, as long as it doesn't risk destroying the Emerald. Admittedly, no one has done anything that has been able to damage it just yet, so don't worry about that." The Professor flipped a small catch on the case, opening it and lifting out the gem. "Try holding it, first."

Shadow accepted the gem, cradling it between his hands. He gazed into its deep green depths, trying to see or feel something. Something like a spark caught his eye, and he watched as it spiraled toward the center of the Emerald. It twinkled briefly, then flashed.

A tingling sensation shot through his body, starting at his hands and washing up his arms. He squeezed his eyes shut just as the Emerald blazed with light, blinding most of the people nearby. He heard them cry out and stumble backward, then heard some crashes as they knocked chairs over.

He felt full to bursting with...with...he didn't know what. It wasn't very painful, but it was too overwhelming, slamming itself against mental barriers he hadn't been aware of and clamoring to get out. He struggled to restrain it for perhaps half a minute, the Emerald still in his grip glowing brighter every second. Then he simply couldn't.

The Emerald's light changed abruptly from pale green to white-gold, streaming in intangible ribbons from its source. Between the myriad bands of light, Shadow saw glimpses of the lab around him, of the kitchen Maria used, of various locations on the ARK. He also saw scenery that he had never even dreamed of; a smooth sheet of water as far as he could see, a long, narrow street surrounded by tall buildings, a place with nothing but trees for miles around.

He also saw things he couldn't explain. A small blond girl watching stars fly past her window. A man with dark clothing at a desk on a screen. A moving star with a tail in the sky that suddenly disappeared. The Professor typing madly at a computer.

So many images, hundreds of them, flitted through the gaps between the Emerald's light. He lost track of them and of what meaning they might have, exhausted by their sheer numbers. He wanted them to go away, so that he could think again.

As suddenly as it had appeared, the light vanished. Shadow dropped to his knees, letting go of the Emerald and letting it roll a short way from him. The floor, he then noticed, was charred black. Wearily, he looked around.

Most of the lab was in ruins. The chairs and desks nearest him had been completely destroyed, reduced to twisted fragments scattered in a wide circle. They were still smoking faintly. Farther away, they looked burned, despite being made of metal, and chunks had been blown out from them. The walls were pocked with roughly circular burn marks and shrapnel, and the charred sections of the floor made a large sunburst pattern with him at the center.

Shadow got carefully to his feet. He then saw that the humans had all fled the room and managed to shut the heavy door behind them, which was also badly damaged. Through the cracked glass windows, he saw them peering anxiously in, trying to see if the commotion was over. Once they saw that it was, they inched the door open again and crept back into the room. They began looking around, checking the extend of the damage. Shadow wandered over to the doorway.

The Professor was seated just outside, elbows on knees and face in hands. He was trembling slightly. Shadow approached him and asked, "Professor?"

The man jerked and looked up at him, involuntarily shrinking away a little when he saw who it was. He's afraid of me, Shadow realized mournfully. He lowered his eyes.

"Ah..." The Professor cleared his throat. "That was...extraordinary, Shadow, I...I've never seen anything like it." He fumbled with his glasses, polishing them shakily, then rose. "I, uh, shall have to take note of this. Please, excuse me." He started down the hallway.

Shadow remained gazing at the floor, feeling miserable. He heard the Professor's hurried footsteps retreating, then pause. "Oh, and please, don't go near the Emerald until we know it's safe to," the man called, then left Shadow alone in the hall.

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 Post subject: Re: Lost Impact
PostPosted: Fri Oct 01, 2010 5:20 pm 
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 Post subject: Re: Lost Impact
PostPosted: Sun Oct 03, 2010 4:29 pm 
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Argh, missed a day again. >>

~~~

XVIII

Gerald staggered into his office, trying to contain his fear. He made it to his desk and sank into his chair, still shaking uncontrollably.

That Shadow... he thought, then shook his head. No, it was not fair to blame Shadow for this. None of them had any idea what would've happened just by letting him hold a Chaos Emerald. But there should have been plans, safeguards, in case things went wrong...and things did certainly go very wrong.

Their first sign of trouble had been when light suddenly poured from the Emerald. The air felt incredibly tight and stretched, somehow. If pressed, Gerald would have described it as being pulled too hard in too many directions and about to snap. The moment before anything actually snapped, however, the light from the Emerald changed.

And Shadow had lost control.

As the hedgehog clutched the Emerald, the light around it seemed to solidify into sharp light-lances of some kind. Once the lances reached a certain length and diameter, they shot away from Shadow. Whatever they touched tended to explode. The lances took about three seconds to progress from formation to launch, and at least one lance was released every five seconds. Distance didn't seem to affect the severity of the damage inflicted, although the lances didn't seem to be of uniform power. Regardless, it had still been a terrifying sight, and everyone had fled after the very first lance.

Gerald drew a hand over his eyes. Thankfully, there were no casualties or even severe injuries, and as with the episode with the Biolizard, no expensive or hard-to-replace equipment had been in the lab at the time, but it would still take a long while to fix up again. They would have to use a different room for work and replace everything in the lab.

Taking priority over that, the scientist decided, was finding a way to keep Shadow from obliterating everything near him whenever he got ahold of a Chaos Emerald. If he had done that much damage with only one, it didn't bear thinking of what he could do with all seven.

He drew out a piece of paper and began taking notes. What Shadow needed would be restraints or limiters of some kind that would allow him to control how much energy he spent. Gerald had no doubt that the light-lances were some other manifestation of Shadow's power. If Shadow could control how powerful they were, perhaps he could study them...

He shook his head and focused on the task at hand. Finding out what those light-lances really were could wait. This was far more important.

Gerald stayed in his office for the rest of the day, then spent an additional night and day in one of his small private work rooms. By the time he left his quarters, his new inventions in hand, Shadow was nowhere to be found.

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 Post subject: Re: Lost Impact
PostPosted: Mon Oct 04, 2010 1:52 pm 
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Something familiar shows up in this post...
I'll admit I have NO clue exactly how Gerald managed to make his gloves and shoes, nor did I really think about if he created more than one pair. What they do is based partly on Sonic X and partly on the final cutscene of Shadow's story in the 2006 game, which more or less canonized the Sonic X version. Gerald goes into more detail next chapter.

~~~

XIX

He was hiding.

Ever since the incident in the lab, Shadow had been hiding in the ARK's spire. No one would or could find him there, and he didn't want to face the others yet. He knew, without being told, that he could have badly injured or even killed someone that day. He didn't want to make another mistake and actually do so.

After only twenty four hours, however, he was feeling lonely. He hadn't been this secluded even at the beginning, when no one talked to him except to ask him questions about if he felt any change from the day before, or to tell him to stand here, sit there, hold this. At least then, he had still seen other people. And the inside of the spire was so dull, with absolutely nothing to look at.

Finally, he decided to go back to the main part of the colony. Maybe he would find an unused room and continue hiding there. He could always Chaos Control away if someone walked in on him. For some reason, after having touched the Chaos Emerald, he found it easier to Chaos Control. He didn't really have to think about it anymore, and somehow knew that no matter what he did with it, he was warping time and space simultaneously. In varying proportions, perhaps, but he would never again manipulate one without also twisting the other. Perhaps he would have been glad a few days ago, but now he just didn't care much. It wasn't worth the solitude.

Getting to his feet, he pictured the ARK's main common room. Within the next eye blink, he was there.

Unfortunately he was not alone. The Professor was already standing at the giant window-wall, gazing at the stars. Before Shadow could flee, however, the Professor called, "Wait, Shadow!" The hedgehog stayed where he was, uncertain. The Professor walked over. "I...apologize for yesterday," the man began. "I hadn't anticipated what might happen if I gave you that Emerald, and as a result we've scared each other quite badly." He hesitated, then held out the small sack he carried in one hand. "I made these for you."

Shadow took the sack and opened it. Peering in, he saw a pair of gloves, placed neatly on top of a pair of shoes. Both were mostly white, with black and red accents and gold rings around the wrist and ankle areas. He looked up at the Professor again, feeling confused. "For me?"

The Professor smiled. "Yes. I hope they will prevent any similar disastrous results if and when we ever experiment with the Chaos Emeralds again. Try those on, and then we'll see."

"I don't want to risk hurting anyone," Shadow muttered, not moving.

"If it bothers you that much, we'll be in separate but adjacent rooms, and don't pick up the Emerald until I signal you," the Professor reassured him. Shadow considered it, then nodded reluctantly. "Good boy. Now, put those on." He obeyed, wiggling his fingers as he got the gloves on. For some reason, the gold rings appeared to increase in radius when they slipped over his hands, then return to their original dimensions once they settled over his wrists. "So far so good," the Professor muttered, as though to himself. The man walked to the door to the common area and beckoned Shadow to go with him.

Several minutes later, Shadow was once again staring at the green Chaos Emerald, encased in its glass box. He glanced at the Professor, who had shut himself in the neighboring office. The man raised his eyebrows at him, then smiled and gave him a thumbs-up. Apprehensively, Shadow opened the case and removed the Emerald from it.

As before, nothing happened at first. He found the spark again and watched it, prepared to tear his gaze away if he felt anything. As before, it twinkled and flashed.

This time, however, there was no blaze of light or flood of confusing images. The Emerald continued to glow gently, and aside from a slight prickling sensation at the back of his head, Shadow didn't feel anything, either.

"Very good," the Professor called, his voice muffled by the door. "If you're feeling up to it, try doing what you did yesterday, but in a more controlled fashion, if you please. There's a few broken chairs you can practice on." Shadow stared at him.

"I don't know how I did it yesterday," he called back. "I don't even know what I did."

"Remember how you used Chaos Control for the first time. Try and remember how you were feeling."

Shadow sighed and looked at the Emerald in his hands. What had he felt? Nothing much, just that overwhelming pressure in his mind, then its sudden slackening when the Emerald's light changed colors. Might as well try that, somehow. He gazed intently at the Emerald, imagining himself taking some of its light and reeling it in, packing it into his hand. As he worked, he felt the pressure gradually return. When he had taken as much as he thought he could manage, he made a horizontal throwing motion at the nearest chair.

Something flew from his hand and struck the chair squarely, causing it to explode. He flinched away, covering his eyes with one forearm. When the dust settled, there was nothing left of the chair except faintly smoking fragments, just like the chairs in the lab. He glanced at the window in the door. The Professor was smiling at him through it.

"Very well done, Shadow," he was saying. "I think that's enough experimenting for now. Rest a while. Later, or perhaps tomorrow, we'll see the extent of what you can do with...that." He opened the door and beckoned to Shadow. The hedgehog went over to him, not quite used to not feeling the floor under his feet anymore. "Do you want to name that?" the Professor suddenly asked.

"What? Name what?"

"The...attack you just used." The Professor polished his glasses. "I hate to say it, but this new power of yours seems to be purely offensive in nature. I cannot possibly think of a way it could be used constructively. So, I will continue to refer to it as an attack. But I do not wish to keep referring to it as 'that,' and I do not know of anyone having ever seen anything like it before. As its first known user, you should name it."

Shadow thought about it. "It...doesn't feel that different from my Chaos Control," he admitted. "I don't know for sure, but I think the two are tied together in some way." He looked up at the Professor. "I think I would like to call it Chaos Spear, because of what I felt and for how it looks."

"Good name," the Professor chuckled. "Now let's go find something to eat."

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 Post subject: Re: Lost Impact
PostPosted: Tue Oct 05, 2010 3:13 am 
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And this wraps up part 2. o3o

They keep saying on, for example, Shadow's Wikipedia page that his Chaos Spear/Blast/whatever abilities are all variations of Chaos Control. Considering their...vastly different effects, I came up with the below explanation. It's not official, and it likely won't make sense, but it was the best I could come up with. ._.'

It's gonna go into really short chapters after this. Only one long chapter left.

~~~

XX

Over the next few days, Shadow and Gerald worked together to piece together just what Chaos Spear did to objects it struck. Their findings weren't exactly conclusive, but Gerald had a hypothesis. Each light-lance caused multiple Chaos Controls in the object it hit, cycling it back and forth in both space and time. Nothing in the world could resist trauma like that; Gerald doubted if there was even anything in all of existence that could. Thus, the explosions.

Sometimes, Shadow threw Chaos Spears that cut through objects instead of destroying them. Neither of them could explain how the two types of Spear were any different. Visually, they were identical. It did, however, seem to have something to do with where they were aimed; a glancing shot tended to slice the target in two, while a straight-on blow usually destroyed it.

They also found out that Shadow was able to charge his spears, and that doing so for longer caused them to trigger more Chaos Control cycles upon their release (if that was indeed how the spears worked). Gerald was estimating three cycles for a spear that was not charged at all to upward of a hundred cycles for when Shadow couldn't hold onto a spear any longer without losing control as before. Shadow could still fire Chaos Spears if he didn't have a Chaos Emerald, but they were obviously more powerful if he did.

Gerald finally instructed Shadow to try removing one of the rings around his wrists during one session. At first, the hedgehog flatly refused. "Professor, these rings keep the Emerald from overpowering me like the first time, don't they?" he asked, his arms crossed over his chest. "I don't want to remove them, ever, if I might end up losing control again and hurting people."

"You've already been handling the Emerald for a week now," Gerald reminded him. "It's my belief that you were only overwhelmed by the Emerald because your body had never been exposed to its power before. Now, you're accustomed to handling it, storing it, and releasing it. It's time we tested the last function I made those rings for; to provide you with extra power whenever and wherever you need it."

Shadow sighed, unfolded his arms, and laid his right hand over his left wrist. "Just in case, please move back, Professor." As soon as Gerald had backed himself into a wall, Shadow twisted the ring and slid it off his hand. Setting it down, he then picked up the Chaos Emerald. He curled his left hand fingers into a fist, then straightened them again. Abruptly, he made a slashing motion at the far wall, where target boards had been placed.

The Chaos Spear he released was brighter and appeared more solid than all of his previous ones. The culminating explosion was likewise more spectacular. Shadow hurriedly put the Emerald down and slipped his wrist ring back on as the dust settled.

"Excellent!" Gerald exulted. "See, that didn't do anyone any harm." Shadow was gazing at the Emerald again. After a moment, he nodded, smiling a little ruefully.

"Any other functions in these gloves and shoes you haven't mentioned yet?" he asked.

Gerald paused. "Actually, yes." He gestured toward a chair, motioning for Shadow to sit, then seated himself in another chair nearby. "Take one of those off," he instructed the hedgehog, indicating his shoes. After Shadow had done so, Gerald took the shoe from him and flipped it over. "You see this?" He pointed at a nozzle in the sole of the shoe. There were a total of five of them, arranged in a straight line.

"What is that?" Shadow ran a finger down the row of nozzles.

"They're...I suppose you can call them exhaust ports of a sort," Gerald explained. "You can, with some practice, channel your power through it." He thought for a moment, then chose to clarify. "I've come to the conclusion that this power--I'll refer to it as Chaos energy, since it's linked to the Emeralds--is somehow naturally generated in your body, and this is why you can use Chaos Control on your own. It also seems to constantly replenish itself, although obviously if you use too much of it too quickly, you can exhaust yourself."

Shadow nodded, his eyes fixed attentively on the scientist's face. Gerald tapped the golden ring around the shoe he held. "These rings I gave you keep a limit on how much Chaos energy you use at once. Leave them on, and you'll almost never run out; the energy generated that you don't use is stored for later. Take the rings off, and you can use more of your energy at once, but risk consuming it all. The rings around your wrists are much stronger restraints than the ones on your ankles, as they're easier to remove in times of emergency. Since you don't appear to have a maximum limit to how much energy you can retain, it would be best if you wore all four rings as often as possible."

"I was planning to." Shadow was looking at the shoe he still wore. "But what about the nozzles?"

"Another way to burn your stored energy, if you don't choose to use it for something else," Gerald replied, shrugging. "I designed them to work somewhat like skates, but without wheels. I'd imagine you can use them to get somewhere in a hurry. I suppose if you tried hard enough, you could even hover off the ground, but I wouldn't recommend it. It'd be a waste of power." He returned Shadow's shoe to him and watched him put it back on. "Want to try them out?" The hedgehog nodded and got to his feet. "Ah, but not here," Gerald added quickly. "Try finding some large, spacious room; don't want you rocketing into a chair or a table and getting a concussion."

Shadow smiled again at his concern. "I'll do that." Casually, he walked out of the room. Gerald watched him leave, feeling satisfied, then left from another door. He had a report to write, possibly one of the last he would be sending. As far as he concerned, the project was a total success. Shadow was not only immortal in at least one aspect of the word, but he also had powers no one in the world had ever seen used before.

Gerald was satisfied for another reason, one he wouldn't confide to anyone else. His cannon had accepted power from the Chaos Emerald beautifully. He had tested every one of the seven special sockets that he had designed to hold the Emeralds, and every last one of them worked the way it should. If Black Doom and his army ever came calling with unkind intentions, the ARK and the Earth would be safe.

Whistling, Gerald opened his door--making a mental note to leave instructions for Shadow regarding the cannon's operation--and strode into his office.

Life was good.

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 Post subject: Re: Lost Impact
PostPosted: Thu Oct 07, 2010 3:04 pm 
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Missed another day. D<

Those of you familiar with the game canon should know what happens next. I obviously do, so I'm not sure if the tension builds up right. >>' Ah well...

~~ Part 3: Maria ~~

XXI

Gerald stood in front of a full-length mirror, adjusting his coat. He resettled his glasses on his nose, then picked up his briefcase from the desk and turned to leave the room. Maria waited in the doorway, flanked (as always) by Shadow. She looked disappointed. Gerald couldn't judge the hedgehog's expression as well, but it seemed the same as hers.

"Are you certain you absolutely must leave now?" Maria asked.

"I'm afraid so," Gerald told her reluctantly. "Shuttle rides from the ARK back to Earth always take so long, and they requested I join them tomorrow. I'll have to depart immediately if I'm to make it on time." He ushered both of them out of the room, and all three continued down a long hallway. "You two go on without me. I'm sure Shadow can think of more to show me by the time I return, in any case." The hedgehog chuckled, pleased by the comment.

"All right, then," Maria sighed, resignedly. "Take care, Grandfather. See you soon!"

"I hope you enjoy the meeting, Professor."

"Goodbye, Maria, Shadow. Have fun." The girl smiled, then reached toward Shadow, who took her hand and led her down a side hall. She waved back at him, then the two turned a corner and disappeared.

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 Post subject: Re: Lost Impact
PostPosted: Fri Oct 08, 2010 9:41 pm 
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XXII

Gerald drummed his fingers against the briefcase on his lap, watching the stars flit by his window. He wondered idly what Maria and Shadow were doing. The hedgehog had learned the use of his new shoes with his usual speed and wanted to show Maria some of the things he could now do with them. He had asked Gerald if he wanted to see, too, but unfortunately the scientist had other matters to tend to. Business before pleasure.

Soon after he had sent in his final report on Project Shadow, Gerald had received a summons to a meeting back on Earth. This didn't surprise him. Some things were better understood when explained in person. His briefcase contained copies of the data his team had gathered about Shadow in the first few weeks of testing, and he had printed excerpts from his own notes detailing Shadow's abilities. Although he didn't know if he would need them, he also had a few photographs of Shadow, in case the others were curious about exactly what he looked like.

Outside, the blackness of outer space lightened to hazy gray-white, then pale blue. "We're almost there, sir," the pilot called. "Please prepare to disembark."

"Alright. Thank you." The scientist closed his window, checked once more that his briefcase had everything it should, then settled back into his seat to wait for the landing.

Several minutes later, the shuttled had maneuvered into a docking bay and come to a stop. Gerald freed himself from the safety harness, picked up his case, and exited the spacecraft. He made it as far as the terminal door before he stopped abruptly, confused and slightly alarmed.

He would have expected someone there to pick him up and perhaps ferry him to wherever he would be staying until he had to return to the ARK. He might have guessed some of the other attendees of the meeting might also be waiting to receive him. Instead, he saw the dark-suited man, his hands in his pockets, standing before a semicircle of armed GUN soldiers.

GUN? What's GUN doing here?

"Professor Gerald Robotnik." The dark-suited man's greeting was anything but welcoming. "We would like for you to come with us." As the scientist gaped at him, uncomprehending, he continued flatly, "You are under arrest for breaking your agreement with the government and creating weapons of mass destruction. You will be put under armed guard and escorted to Prison Island. You shall await your sentence there." He removed one hand from his pocket, gestured. The soldiers moved forward.

He stood completely still as they confiscated his briefcase and snapped cuffs around his wrists. He was entirely compliant when they led him to the car and directed him to the back seat. He remained totally mute as they drove, transferred him to an equally guarded ship, then left him in a small cell. He stared blankly around him, seeing but not seeing the narrow desk, the small chair, the barred window high up on the wall, the empty computer monitor perched on the desk.

Then he started thinking again. He sat in the chair, heavily, and stared at the door that he knew would be locked. Why? he wondered, over and over. Why why why? And then, unbidden, panic. He scrambled back to his feet and lurched toward the door, searching frantically for something. He eventually found a small speaker and pressed the button next to it. "Excuse me," he called, speaking rapidly. He tried not to let his voice shake. "Excuse me, excuse me."

"Yes?" the speaker crackled back. "We can hear you."

"What- Why am I here?"

"The government says you've been going back on your word and manufacturing weapons. Your official charge is treason." The answer was dull, dry, unconcerned. "They've sent people to the space colony. They're shutting it down. Everyone will be rounded up and returned to Earth. Your subordinates will be joining you here soon."

Gerald stared at the speaker, his mind on one thing. Maria.

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 Post subject: Re: Lost Impact
PostPosted: Sat Oct 09, 2010 4:31 am 
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XXIII

Shadow circled the room, gradually increasing his speed. Maria was seated in a chair by the door, her hands in her lap, watching him.

He had realized very quickly that the hover skates (his own term for them) responded so well they might have just been part of his body. Using them was purely instinctual; he didn't have to think about it as he did with Chaos Control or Chaos Spear. He had indeed managed to use them to hover off the ground, against the Professor's advice, and learned that long, gliding strides worked better than actually running. If, that is, he planned to use the jet nozzles rather than treat his shoes as normal footwear.

Finally, as he began finishing a circuit of the room in less than ten seconds, he judged he was going fast enough. He glanced over at Maria, who smiled encouragingly (but a little nervously). Smiling back at her, he broke out of his circular path and headed straight for a wall. He heard Maria gasp.

Carefully--or as carefully as he could manage at that speed--he timed his strides in order to have one foot free the moment he reached the wall. The next thing either of them knew, he was running right up the wall, then continued onto the ceiling. He slowed down a little too much when he was nearly across it and dropped back to the floor. He hurriedly flipped himself in midair and landed on his feet, then straightened and dipped in a shallow bow.

Maria laughed, clapping. "Goodness, I didn't know you would try that," she giggled. "I don't know if you'd want to show Grandpa, though. He might-"

A buzzer alarm went off, cutting her short. They stared at each other, Maria with apprehension, Shadow with confusion. "What's going on?" he asked.

"It's an assembly call," she answered, getting out of her chair. He walked over to her. "When it sounds, it means something's wrong, and everyone has to go to the Colony's shuttle port in case we need to leave." She looked slightly frightened. Shadow took her hand and squeezed it gently, reassuring her.

"Well then, let's see what's going on," he suggested, leading her from the room. They hadn't gone far when the alarm turned off. They shared another brief glance, both confused this time. Then they heard the screams.

"Don't move!" one voice barked sharply. "Hands in the air!"

"Stop shrieking, woman," commanded another, impatient. "We won't shoot you if you don't resist." The screams subsided into quiet, terrified sobs. Doors banged open, somewhere out of sight, and more voices were raised in fear and alarm. Maria flinched. Another door was flung open, and suddenly they were there, spilling into the hallway, around six of them, helmeted and visored and armed with rifles

GUN soldiers.

The two of them froze, not sure what to do. One spotted them, turned to his fellows, said something. "That's it!" exclaimed a different soldier, pointing at Shadow. "That's the experiment, the so-called Ultimate Life Form."

"Capture it!" the tallest one ordered. "Preferably alive, although I don't mind dead." They advanced.

Shadow took two slow steps back, then turned and fled, bringing Maria with him.

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 Post subject: Re: Lost Impact
PostPosted: Sun Oct 10, 2010 5:01 pm 
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I probably abuse the short paragraph thing in this section, but I didn't think piling everything into giant paragraphs would've been as effective...

~~~

XXIV

The two of them ran down the hallway, back the way they came, the hedgehog leading the girl by the hand. Behind them, in hot pursuit, were the GUN soldiers. The hallway was suddenly a corridor, with rounded walls. The entire left side of the corridor was transparent, showing stars and the Earth, looming blue white and green in the foreground.

Shadow was thinking hard as he ran. Ran, because Maria would never be able to keep up with him if he used his hover skates. So he ran, as though he wasn't wearing them.

He was debating whether to risk using Chaos Spear on the soldiers to delay them. For obvious reasons, the Professor had not tested the effects of Chaos Spear on living creatures. Not after seeing what it did to inanimate objects. Shadow knew that he could very will kill the soldiers if he attacked them.

He took a brief glance behind him. Maria was doing her best to keep up, gasping a little for breath. He frowned, worried, and considered slowing down just a little, but she caught his concerned gaze and shook her head. He returned his attention to the corridor in front of him. No, he wouldn't use Chaos Spear. Maria would not want that, would not want him hurting people that way, and he personally didn't feel like blowing people into pieces with her present.

Chaos Control, then? No, not that either. He'd never tried bringing anything with him, aside from what he was wearing. He didn't want to make Maria his first attempt.

Maria squeezed his hand. He looked at her again. She nodded at a door in the right wall, toward the end of the corridor that they were fast approaching. He altered their direction immediately. Cries went up from the soldiers behind them as they realized what they were doing. He stopped running, let go of Maria's hand, and faced them.

The soldiers froze, mid-stride, two yards from where he stood. Maria paused, unnerved. "Come on," Shadow beckoned to her, punching the entry code into the number pad next to the door. "Get in."

"What did you-?"

"I froze time around them. It's not going to hold for long." He tugged her toward the doors as they slid slowly open. "Get in." She hurried through the doorway. Shadow positioned himself before it, then flicked his hand at the number pad. A golden lancet struck it and exploded, sending a shower of sparks into the air. The doors beeped and began sliding closed. The hedgehog slipped quickly through them before they shut all the way. The moment they did, he heard the soldiers outside swear and begin hammering on the door.

Now there was no way into the room short of breaking the door down or hauling it open manually.

He looked around. Maria was leaning against some sort of control panel, catching her breath. They were in one of several emergency escape ports. The control panel in the middle of the room hummed gently, lights from dozens of buttons winking at him. The wall directly across from them was also glass, with the curve of Earth centered at the bottom edge. He wandered over to it and gazed out for a moment, then turned around.

"What now?" he asked. "If and when they get in here, we won't have anywhere to go." Maria straightened up, sighing.

"I don't know," she confessed. They stood in silence for a few seconds, both looking at Earth. A loud metallic clang made Maria jump and look back at the door.

"They're trying to break in," Shadow muttered, leaving his spot by the wall. As he walked behind Maria, he spotted her return her attention to the control panel and quickly jab something on it. A glass cylinder descended almost instantaneously, trapping him within it. He stopped walking before he ran into it, then looked down in alarm. He was standing at the edge of a large white circle, one of several that marked the locations of the escape pods around the room. "What are you doing?!" he yelled, banging on the smooth inside surface with his fists.

Maria smiled faintly. "Those soldiers are coming after you," she reminded him, turning to face the pod. Her voice was muffled by the thick glass. "You have to get away."

"I'm not leaving you behind!" He backed up, calculating. Using a Chaos Spear at this range would probably injure him badly. It would also possibly send shards across the room. With Maria there, he wasn't willing to take any risks whatsoever.

"Don't worry about me, I'll be fine," Maria assured him. More sounds from the direction of the door. "You heard what they said earlier, to the others. As long as we don't resist, they won't hurt us."

"But..." He couldn't really think of an argument. Couldn't think very much at all, in fact.

She met his eyes and held them, suddenly serious. "Please, in my place, for all the people living on that planet-"

"Maria?"

Maria was still saying something, but the GUN soldiers outside had resumed their efforts at getting the door open. Over the clangs and banging, combined with the glass barrier between them, Shadow couldn't hear her. Instead, he kicked at the glass, cursing its resilience. The same toughness that enabled its occupants to survive in outer space also prevented him from breaking it.

"Maria, I'm telling you, I'm not going to-"

The door burst open.

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 Post subject: Re: Lost Impact
PostPosted: Mon Oct 11, 2010 4:30 pm 
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End of Part Three. o3o

~~~

XXV

Maria whirled around as the GUN soldiers filed rapidly into the room, adopting a tight semicircle in front of the doorway. She was standing between them and Shadow's escape pod. From within, he watched helplessly, his hands pressed to the glass as though he could somehow fall through it.

"Step away from the control panel, little girl," one of the soldiers ordered. He was the tallest one, the one seemingly in charge. "We don't want to hurt you. We just have some...business with the creature behind you."

"Hands in the air," another soldier added. The entire group had their rifles aimed at the two of them.

Maria looked at the soldiers, then resolutely turned to the control panel and reached for the release lever. "Don't do it!" Shadow pleaded, pounding his escape pod's walls. At the same time, the soldiers shouted warnings: "Don't mess with us, girl!" "Step away from there, now!" "We're not playing around here! Stop now or we'll shoot!" Maria ignored them all.

One soldier took a step forward, brandishing his weapon. "I'm warning you, girl-" There was a sharp crack, a crisp sound that sliced through the air and brought stifling silence in its wake. Maria cried out and jerked backward like something had struck her, clutching her waist.

Someone was screaming her name in a hysterical voice. It took Shadow a moment to realize it was himself.

The soldiers all stood stock still, stunned. Then they rounded on the bewildered man in front, berating him for firing on an innocent. "It was an accident," he protested wildly, his eyes huge. "I only meant to startle her-"

Shadow was staring in horror at Maria, who was holding onto the release lever with one bloodstained hand. The other was pressed over her stomach, where a crimson stain was slowly spreading. She looked up at him, forced a smile through her pain, and spoke one last time, strangely clear over the soldiers' clamor.

"Goodbye, Shadow the Hedgehog."

She yanked the lever down and collapsed. Shadow saw the soldiers start and run toward him, carefully avoiding Maria's prone form on the ground, but it was too late. He shot down into the darkness of space, surrounded by all sides by the carelessly winking stars.

He felt his legs give way, and he sank to his knees, staring blankly at his hands. Nothing. He had done nothing, nothing to save her, nothing to stop her from doing what she did. He hadn't even thought to Chaos Control out of the escape pod, and even if he had, he wouldn't have managed it. His mind was much too far gone in shock. The necessary focus, the concentration he still needed to use his power...he had lost it all the moment the escape pod's walls encased him, lost it to the fear he'd felt for Maria.

He raised his head, watching the ARK spiral away from him. Maria...

She was gone.

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 Post subject: Re: Lost Impact
PostPosted: Tue Oct 12, 2010 3:42 am 
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~~ Part 4: Gerald ~~

XXVI

Gerald paced the length of his cell immeasurable times, worrying. It had been an entire day since he was arrested. No one was deciding to tell him anything: whether the ARK had been closed already, whether his subordinates had also been incarcerated...whether Maria was okay.

Finally, news came. The bored voice over the speaker informed him that someone had sent a summary to his computer. The scientist hurried to the machine and turned it on.

The report was brief. The ARK had been completely evacuated, everyone deported back to Earth. Some residents had protested and had to be coerced into cooperating. All of Gerald's assistants were sent to jail cells on Prison Island. There had been a few casualties among the residents due to excessive resistance; their names were listed on the last page.

Gerald found Maria Robotnik toward the end of that list.

His first reaction was disbelief. They must have made a mistake. Maria would still be fine. Waiting, perhaps, for him to join her again. Worrying about him. Yes, that had to be it.

He slumped in his seat and rested his head in his hands. No. No, there were no other Robotniks on the ARK aside from himself and Maria. He was here, in this cell, alive, which meant...

He had no doubt that this was his fault. He had agreed to take on Project Shadow. He had created the Ultimate Life Form. And because of that, he had lost the one reason for everything he did.

He remained seated in his chair for a long, long time, enveloped in crushing desolation.

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 Post subject: Re: Lost Impact
PostPosted: Wed Oct 13, 2010 3:28 am 
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Hopefully my writing style changed enough in this chapter to reflect Gerald's current state of mind. ._. (Longish spoiler rant coming up.)
By this point, Gerald has completely lost it. He's still a genius, but his preoccupation with revenge is preventing him from thinking straight. So, he overlooks a few things. Such as his revenge plan. He scraps his initial idea because I couldn't think up a better explanation for why he specifically wanted the ARK to crash into the planet rather than just blasting it apart, but when he later realizes he could get Shadow to do his work for him, he continues working on his (eventually) final plan, overlooking the fact that Shadow could also carry out his original idea.
Going further on this idea, he overlooks the fact that if Shadow's on the ARK when he smashes it into the Earth, he might not survive. Gerald's no longer thinking that far ahead. And he doesn't truly know whether Shadow can be killed or not. To be honest, that's because I don't know either. It's left pretty vague exactly how immortal Shadow is.
Two times in game canon, once at the beginning of Sonic Adventure 2 and once in the "future" of the 2006 game, Shadow was seen locked into stasis. This is apparently to keep him from going on a homicidal rampage against humanity (which he nearly does anyway when released in SA2). If the government is so terrified of him, why lock him away instead of just killing him off? That sorta implies he can't be killed.
On the other hand, Shadow was created using blood from Black Doom. Despite his own statement about being immortal, Black Doom was taken down by Shadow himself at the end of Shadow's self-titled game. It's not made clear if Shadow only beat him up or killed him, however, although he did blow up the Black Comet afterward. If Black Doom had survived, that would have stranded him on Earth, which doesn't strike me as a brilliant idea.
So basically there's evidence that points both ways regarding precisely how immortal Shadow is. Just regard Gerald's statement toward the end of this chapter as another aspect of his insanity; he doesn't actually know.

Yes there's a dash missing on top of "protege." I have no idea how to add it in. It's there in my Word Document version of this fic, though.

~~~

XXVII

The flickering light of the computer screen was the only illumination in Gerald's cell. He bathed in its glow as he typed, perversely pleased with himself. Those imbeciles outside had no idea just how good he was with computers. Using the one in his room, he had accessed his files on the ARK's main computer, which were still intact. Presumably the GUN soldiers and whoever else had been sent up there had not been instructed to block him from the system. Well, they would regret it.

He had a plan. A plan that would likely not come to fruition within his lifetime, but that was an insignificant detail. It was a plan to avenge Maria's unjust, untimely death. Revenge for his dear granddaughter, so kind and so loving and so cruelly taken from the world. For that, he would do anything.

The Eclipse Cannon. The weapon he had developed and installed on the ARK. It would be the instrument for his triumph. He had made careful estimations, back when he was still on board the space colony. Powered by one Emerald, the cannon was powerful enough to demolish small meteors. If he could get all seven of the Chaos Emeralds, the results would be calamitous. Apocalyptic. Perfect.

But no, there was no one on the ARK to actually use the cannon. The targeting and firing mechanism was a very complex system. Not something he could write a program for, from this prison. So. Ram the Earth with the ARK. Gerald chortled, rubbing his hands together gleefully. With the Eclipse Cannon on board powered with all seven Emeralds, it would be akin to using a nuclear warhead on a large boulder. Nothing on either Earth or the ARK would be left alive.

He worked, all day and all night, forgoing sleep in favor of further developing his scheme. To ensure his program's success, he transmitted a brief video message to the Biolizard. It knew him as a father figure, and he knew it would be glad to obey his instructions. With something as lethal as the prototype Ultimate Life Form guarding the power source, no one would be able to turn it off.

The only problem was the Chaos Emeralds themselves. Certainly, even if he were ever allowed to leave his cell, he couldn't go searching for them on his own. The government wouldn't let him. Not that they would even let him out of his cell; he'd learned that he had been given the death sentence, to be carried out in five days. Without the Chaos Emeralds, his plan would not work.

He was in the midst of deliberating over how to solve this problem when the speaker by the door crackled. He glared at it, angered by the interruption. How dare those fools disrupt his thinking! What the voice told him, however, caught his attention. "We've found your protege," it said, sounding slightly amused.

Gerald got out of his chair and walked over. "What protege?" he asked.

"Your so-called Ultimate Life Form. They're bringing it to Prison Island tomorrow morning. Found it stranded by a beach, sitting by the cliff." The voice chuckled. "It's being quite agreeable at the moment, but..." A note of concern crept into the voice. "We haven't yet...informed it that it's to be either executed or sealed into stasis."

Gerald stood very still, his mind racing. Shadow. Yes, of course. The last piece of the puzzle. He allowed himself a savage grin. "You won't be able to kill him," he informed the voice confidently. "I did create him to be immortal." The voice scoffed, but he ignored it. He spoke hesitantly, as if he were unsure. "If...it could be arranged for me to speak to him, privately, I could convince him it's for the best. That he be sealed away. He trusts me."

"That may be so, but we don't trust you." The speaker was silent for a long while. Gerald nearly returned to his computer when the voice spoke again. "But we see no harm in allowing you a little fun before your death. You have an hour tomorrow. Even if we won't be listening, we will be watching, and if either of you show signs of aggression..." The voiced trailed off. "Let's just say your execution would be moved up by half a week."

"I understand." Gerald kept his voice resigned, meek, but inside he was jubilant. How ironic, how symmetrical, that the very same humans he was planning to eradicate would provide him with the perfect way to do so.

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