It was an ordinary day like any other, and just like any other, the local Litwak's Game Arcade opened its doors to many bright and bustling customers, youths gleeful to try the beat the next console level, or passionate enthusiasts still presenting the building 30 years onward.
The manager of the arcade, a cheerful slack balding man dressed in a striped white and black shirt with a coin belt, greeted the citizens fondly, and produced them inside with extended hand. It was then he came face to face with a blue overalled man, slightly bulging around the waist, pushing a large parcelled cuboid box on a metal wheel rack, and unlatched the second panel door to make room for the new addition.
They unwrapped the set, earning a few gasps and awes of excitement, before the slack pin-striped male bent down and pulled the game box cord into the surge extension. It took a moment for the screen to flicker..
Darkened lids opened begrudgingly, his world smothered in acidic water and greenish wires strung from his body; under those lids, gleamed striking crimson orb eyes. He heard muffled tones and saw shadowed outlines of strange bulky creatures.
One creature moved close to the invisible shield, as his own gloved hand with gold bracket reached to press to glass, and the distinct features of an greying mammal, with bold scalp, round white lenses and silver bushy moustache gazed back.
'It is done,' the strange being croaked softly, 'the ultimate creation made of fire, chaos and energy unimaginable.. has been born.'
'Who.. where am I?..' he tried to speak back, sounding uncomfortably groggy and weak.
'You are on the Space Colony Ark, created by myself, Gerald Robotnik..' the ageing man touched latex glove palm to pane, 'and you are the ultimate lifeform, made specifically to protect and in serious circumstances, destroy the inhumane. You are the perfect creature. Your name is Shadow. Shadow the Hedgehog..'
The darkened spine rodent in the tank wasn't sure how to progress this information, but he accepted it.
'Shadow?..' Ebony acknowledged himself, staring distantly at his own reflection in the darkness of the pool water surrounding his form; blood red orb irises, crimson highlights on the corners of his brows, and rouge streaks decorating the upper exteriors of his tilted star shaped quills. He did appear unique, maybe he truly was the perfect being?
Then his world shone as a doorway across the laboratory from him, brightened the room floor, and cast a silhouette outline of a young petite creature with angelic golden locks. 'Grandfather?' came the vibrant mellow echo, as the smaller creature moved closer.
'Maria~' Gerald empathised in soft surprise.
Shadow watched as the tiny person, a female child with bright blue eyes so precious and curious saw into his weary reddish hues, and without hesitation, smiled warmly into his very soul.
Shadow could already tell he felt a kind submission towards her, and inched his first curl of tan lips into a half smile.
'RUN! MARIA!' Shadow tugged the teenager's hand, urging the blonde haired damsel to hurry into his pull; how had this chaos happened?
Their life had been so peaceful and perfect, yet now the authorities had caught onto the Professor's deception of biological mutation, and discovered Shadow the hedgehog had not been designed to their liking.
Instead, he was seen as a 'pet for the sick girl', a cruel stereotype to his true purpose of protecting young Maria, cursed with a deathly illness since childhood.
She was panting heavily, doing her best to match step with the life form's speed, despite going slow enough in her present circumstance, Shadow was still amazingly quick; he looked back, the inner crimsons burning with compelled hatred for the armour worn species- the human soldiers.
They jogged tow doors behind the duo, stamping thick boots on the metal floors of the circular corridors. The space colony ark was vast, but even with his speed, they couldn't outrun them forever.
In the depths of his mind, the life form knew that, but he had to try.
Bullets attempted to shower over them and he forced the girl to duck her screaming head, just missing a fiery collision above.
'SHADOW!' She exclaimed fearfully, tears brimming in her beautiful sapphires.
He nodded curtly and forged an emerald spark in his palm, before flinging it at the oncoming march; the horde was forced to stop and pull back slightly, remarking their outrage. Shadow grabbed Maria's hand again and ran down a side corridor, passing numerous familiar slip panels; he knew they had to escape somehow?
'Quick! We have to reach the stasis pods!' he warned.
They surged through a right hand route and into the open control room. He shoved a barrier in front of the door lock and rushed her over to the transport units. He tried tapping multiple buttons and twisting dials.
The bulk behind them began to hammer aggressively, causing both heads to look back in shock.
Then Maria did something far daring than she'd ever attempted in her small delicate life onboard the Space Colony Ark; she pushed her hedgehog friend into a stasis unit, and pulled the shield shut.
'MARIA!?' The sapient was infuriated with anxiety and rapped his knuckles on the never-welding glass door, 'NO! MARIA! LET ME OUT!'
She leaned over the monitor panel, numerous glinting multi-coloured buttons illuminating under her features, and gave him a heartfelt smile, twinkling pitifully at him, 'It's okay Shadow~ Please, live for me~ Live a beautiful life on earth without hatred and sorrow~ Remember me in the blue skies and the green grass~ Remember my smile for you always~'
'MARIA!' He screamed, seeming emotionally unable to process what she was saying; he kept slamming his fists and kicked his steel white and red boot on the glass too, 'DON'T DO THIS?! LET ME OUT!'
Across the room, the bulk mass yielded and armed military forces surged inside; Maria whipped around just in time to see the helmet faces glare back and black rifles raise towards her.
Shadow yelled for her once more, but it was too late; in her last moment of breathe and radiance, the young girl returned her stare to the trapped hedgehog, swishing her golden locks and smiled fondly, not even spilling a tear. She felt happy to release him, to free her long time friend.
Pale sweet lips mouthed something and even though he could not hear her over the blaze of gun fire and roaring cannons, he knew exactly what those words were, which pierced his heart further into bitter woeful tears.
Next came her distant scream and lifeless hand gripped her last on the lever, forcing Shadow to descend like a piston from the space shuttle and swivel endlessly towards the bright blue world below.
His voice went unheard in the void, within a tube capsule, but her voice echoed forever in his cast memories as he accelerated rapidly downwards straight for the earthy sphere.
'I love you~'
After that, Shadow suddenly blacked out from shock, and soon his pod crashed an hour later within the confines of a dented crater.
Months after his descent, his stasis was discovered by the very humans set out to eliminate him, but instead, kept him for further tests and analysis.
He hardly knew much after that, except the distant voice of the dying girl mimicking within his mind's eye, and as months turned to years, his memory of her became faded and unsure, and his feelings towards her comforting words felt foggy with silent wrath.
And years became a decade, and steadily, her words began to fade more so, until he hardly remembered why he cried silently in his slumber, or why he hated those who took this distant image of a girl, slowly falling after a heavy bang.
It wasn't until 50 years in tine, Shadow was reactivated from his comatose sleep, with barely any understanding of his origins or his reason for existence, and sharp ruby irises blazed at his visitors, scowling with hidden intent.
'Welcome, Shadow the hedgehog,' came a cold deep tone of an individual, garmented in a grey navy uniform adorned with medals and colour tags on the left torso; the human stepped forward, showing the features were old faced yet stern, his greying hair cut neatly square and discoloured emotionless eyes staring under thick brows, 'to the government united nations...'
He came to know this person as the Commander, and their hatred ran deep.
He was neither hero nor villain; he could decide his own fate or let others take it in hand. Whatever his destiny, Shadow decided his purpose was simple enough now. To live and learn- to become what he was made to be.
The ultimate lifeform- either to protect on his own terms or destroy mercilessly on the other.
Shadow looked down, red hues reflecting the fires of a wreaked city, and the brink of war at the hands of humans verses the new threat, called the Black Arms Race or more distinctly, Aliens. He had to decide from now on..
To cast away his fears and neglect for humanity, whilst following the deathly wishes of his dear friend, taken centuries ago;
Or follow the reign of an almighty overlord, a drifting black cloaked horned monster with fierce red eyes like his own, leading him to the path of destruction.
Shadow cocked his rifle, the very murder weapon that took his dear friend's life and jumped down from the tower ledge into the on slather of fire and hell on earth, blazing his rocket skates designed for excelled speeds unimaginable, streaking gold chaos in his wake.
His palm sparked with renewed energy of emerald flames and roared fiercely into combat..
'So you're the new game, huh?' the neon blue guard, dressed in security blue shirt and slacks addressed, pushing round spectacles up pointed nose and tapping a pen tip on his clipboard; the top of his head appeared like a surge unit of the interior light bulb. This was the surge protector and he gave a less enthusiastic glance to the newcomers within the zone.
Shadow twitched a brow, dumbfounded, 'Game? What do you mean, game?'
The blue man raised his own brows, 'As in video game unit. Which category would you be in? I'm guessing something along the lines of abnormal alien shooting arcade, hm?' Without expecting an answer, the guard scribbled something down on his paper sheet.
He gave a quick reproachful glance to the other individuals queuing behind; in lead behind the hedgehog was a uniformed military commander wearing a grey suit, standing before his navy armoured soldiers, (who just like Shadow, appeared somewhat confused by the suggestion), and a floating massive creature with demonic horns and multiple blood slit eyes. Black Doom, the over load, cracked his taloned hands, purring a rumbled growl from his tentacled mouth collar, and his many trinket talismans shivering from his hood.
'Okay, so who's the villain and who's the protagonist hero of this gaming unit?' the man drawled, checking his wrist watch, 'Not wishing to stereotype here, but I'm guessing the floating ghost bull over there is the Villain, yes?'
'How dare you portray me like that, insufficient weakling species-'
'Villain, check.' the man simply listed, pushing spectacles up his nose again, 'And who's the hero? Your game said 'Shadow the Hedgehog', so I'm guessing its..' the blue man pointed between the eyes of the dark spiny mammal, 'you?'
Shadow scoffed, 'I'm no one's hero, human.' He slapped away the pencil with the back of his wrist.
'And that's a technical violation,' the surge replied, 'just so you know, any violent means of aggressive attitudes are not allowed in the game central station. Keep that to your game programming.. Alright-'
The black hedgehog hated the fact he was being ignored, not to mention deeply confused by the talk.
He peeked back to the cable tunnels they had just exited, looking down a non existent fuse hole of static electrodes and white distant light.
'-rule number one, which you just heard, is no fighting other game characters; the game central station in a social commute for programmed individuals like yourself to relax and enjoy each other's company after switch out time- or in technical terms, when the humans outside the arcade dimension leave the arcade at night, closing up shop. Within all reason, during daylight hours of working activity, keep to your programming. Disrupting the programming may result in sudden cancellation of your game unit.'
The blue surge monotoned this script, as if he'd spoken it many times over. He flipped over a sheet.
'In the event of sudden cancellation, inform the surge protector and evacuate the game unit into the central game station. Remain there until the issue is cleared. But as long as you follow the program, everything should work out just.. fine.'
Shadow stared, boring his rubies at this strange being; he was a game character? What did this mean? Did he exist? Or didn't he?
Was his life within the 'game', the life he was created into by the scientist, Gerald, and encouraged to live within by his dear friend, Maria; had all been a lie? He clenched his fists, sour frown etching on tan muzzle.
'Also, should note, most importantly, no characters are allowed to 'go turbo'. Basically, this means you keep to your own game within daylight hours and follow the programming built for you, hence the phrase. Do not under any disregard for other game units, take over opposite systems- this is a major violation. Any further questions, please ask for the surge protector.. which is me.'
The blue man shrugged slightly, 'Enjoy your stay.'
Within a neon second, the dorky faced crypt vanished and transported like a electric wire surge across the vast hall; looking out, Shadow began to notice many odd and intriguing creatures, some human looking like the soldiers stood behind him, and others, he wasn't particularly sure what they were?
An orange orb shaped alien with cute eyes, a long snout and two stubby legs waddled past the doorway; it appeared to be conversing with a green tortoise, yet spoke with a cryptic dialect of buzz tones and long drones. Speech bubbles exited its truck in quotations of exclamations and colons.
Slowly, the ultimate lifeform descended the remaining steps and through, under the golden archway, shaped like a socket thumb, while gazing around the colourful spontaneous arena. He felt isolated and alone; where was he again? Game central?
Behind him, the alien overlord drifted into the area, and at his approach, the citizens close by flocked away fearfully.
The soldiers and their leading commander exited the tunnel, eyeing the many golden archways and bold titles hanging above the doors.
A young group of children, wearing candy extensions on their bodies, lead by a dark liquorice haired girl, with coloured sprinkles on her locks, and donning pin striped red and white stockings under cup cake skirt and green jersey, raced past in sweet assorted go carts.
From above floated winged dragons and fairies, or futuristic shuttle pods swooping across to the opposite openings.
A march of heavy built officers, trumped from the archway named 'Hero's Duty', muttering amongst themselves; a few noted visiting 'Tappers' for a stiff drink. A female armoured human marched out diligently, swinging her thick bulk rifle under arm and flickered her head, swishing short tame white locks from pretty confident eyes. She saw the approaching soldiers across the room and walked over, head held high.
'I'm Sergeant Calhoun, leading figure for the troops of hero's duty. State your rank and purpose, sarge?' she boosted.
The commander inspected the woman's posture and then snapped his heels, saluting her rank, 'Commander Tower, leading authority of Government United Nations. Our duty is to protect society within our realm from the alien invaders of Westroplis.'
'Huh, a man of honour, good to hear.' Calhoun nodded, 'Well, with the greatest respect, Commander, welcome to the game station. Me, and the boys were going to head to Tappers to dunk back a few swirled jugs before reset time. Care to join us?'
Tower firmly broadened his shoulders, tucking hands behind his coat, 'With pleasure, Sergeant. It is important to know our allies into battle grounds. At ease men- to Tappers.' The grey haired man seemed to have become easily accommodated to this bizarre ethnic world.
Calhoun inched a smirk and lead the troupe away.
Black Doom had already lost interest and was gliding elsewhere towards a class of villainous looking individuals, eyeing down a small bluish ghost pixel. Doom didn't seem sure of the conversation, as the ghost noted a group therapy class for 'Bad guys', but he seemed better swayed with those who were dark and threatening in appearance, like himself.
Shadow then became alone.
Diverging whether to join the distrustful soldiers and venture this 'tappers', or curiously follow the evil overlord to this founding group, he instead decided to wander away, sulking dismissively. Metal shoes tap softly on the marble floor, passing many different bodies of characters.
A small moustache man wearing a red hat and blue overalls hopped past, tailed by a slightly taller one wearing a green hat; Shadow believed he heard the first remark something about a 'magic mushroom' with an Italian dialect.
An actual mushroom person, no taller than his knee cap, bumped into him and apologetically squeaked, 'Oops!' He glared characteristically down the stump head, causing the mushroom man to squeal and run away.
He bent his head down, brooding uncomfortably and studied his gloved palm; was this his reality? Being a game character? Was Maria never real to him? He couldn't work it out. How could he be in a game- merely a piece of software built in this ludicrous dimension?
Ebony approached a bench and took a seat, pondering who he really was?
For a long while, in his suppose existence within the Ark and Westropilis, he had always guessed he was either a creature created with pure chaos, able to bring down a unit of armed forces, or reign his wrathful revenge against those who destroyed his past?
Now he discovered, he could be neither.
Was he really Shadow?
He looked up towards the archway where the cast had exited, reading the large bold capitals of a name, 'SHADOW THE HEDGEHOG'.
Even though he had always assumed that title belonged to him, yet now he was unsure whether he truly was.
With a heavy furled sigh, the dark hedgehog lowered his head and slouched his shoulders.
Who was he?
..And groggy eyes peeked open upon his murky new yet familiar world, once again registering the shadowed outlines of first his creator, Gerald, shining round lensed eyes, and then the rushing golden locked girl of his potential friend. She smiled just as warmly as the first time, embracing the hedgehog for who he could be.
'RUN!' Shadow screamed, pulling the blonde youth down the space aged corridor, avoiding gun fire and debris; he was reliving this nightmare.
It wasn't long until moments later he heard her distant scream and Shadow was plunged down towards the earth's atmosphere, recalling her fated promise. A painful one at that.
He followed the programme, depending on the controller's instincts; Shadow never knew why he ever noticed the sky screen before, or the immense faces of humanoid species studying his tapped actions with profound concentration. Some even biting their tongues between their teeth, which infuriated Shadow a bit.
Young or old, each customer at the arcade decided his movements and his route choice- it seemed most loved shooting with his handed pistol and blasting apart obstacles with his chaos spear, at the touch of a button, inconsiderate of whether the foe was alien or otherwise.
It was slowly dawning on Shadow that he really was just an avatar in a game unit.
Two weeks in, Shadow the hedgehog once again stepped from his dome, later followed out by the GUN officials, who happily marched over to Tappers after play; Doom on the other hand, had seemed more conflicted lately, and maybe coming to realise his world domination takeover, was nothing more than rehearsed graphics in the system, and as usual, forlornly glided towards the 'Bad-athon' group, oddly greeted with social welcome by a red devil and a large tortoise dragon with a spiked shell. A fellow red haired man with large hands and crimson dungarees walked over, giving a wide gap-toothed smile. They took the unit transport together, within the cable tracks to Pac Man and were not seen again until just before game curfew.
The dark spine hedgehog however, alone with slight resent, wandered across the room; he spent his time occasionally seated in the station, watching the unique characters pass by, finding stinging amusement in a yellow circle piece munching and blipping casually beside a medieval knight. Bored rubies studied these individuals for a long while, keeping unsocially to hisself with arms folded, and after a while, occasionally chose to visit the other game worlds. He had grown a little curious in the dynamics of their universes, trying out the obstacles or weaponry available to use. However, today he chose to remain seated.
He was also wary of a rumoured warning around the station.
Every half hour, the advertisement tubes, shaped like cylinder televisions, doted around the room switched video and replayed a character uniquely similar in features, but one or two to his own, demonstrating that traveling different game multi-verses without caution could result in a 'game over'.
He rolled his eyes when another informercial played, displaying the same blue hedgehog species describing the data effect of dying outside his own game. Although, secretly, Shadow always found his ruby irises gazing up to the screen, somewhat intrigued? Why? Even he couldn't understand.
However, his view was disturbed when the exact cobalt blur dashed past, streaking a neon blue trail, before excelling a smooth u-turn and skidding minutely before him; Shadow dared not show interest, pretending to ignore the spiny pest.
'Hey, Shadow!~' Sonic greeted him warmly again, saluting an open palm from his brow.
Shadow scoffed, putting on his characteristic defence of folded arms and stiff upper lip- he knew these were just traits programmed into his personality but embraced them fully, especially before this insignificant other.
'Go away, hedgehog.'
'Aw, come on, don't be like that! I thought we were gonna be friends and hang out?' Sonic contently took a seat next to him, much to Shadow's dislike; Ebony nudged away slightly, scowling.
'We are not friends.'
'Why not? We're both fast runners after all~ Wanna race?'
He bored his prying red eyes under narrowed lids.
Within the first week, Shadow had purposely showed off his abilities to cross the vast hall, keen to avoid any direct conversations with other avatars, underestimating the possibly that none were likely to reach his speeds.
This assumption was quickly debunked, when he twisted his head to the side mid-skate, and rubies locked gaze with a very enthusiastic spiny blue mammal, grinning widely with glee. No matter how often Shadow attempted to swerve and dash skid away from the fervid pest, Sonic appeared to always be on his tail, finding his actions more intriguing than a hint to flee in the opposite direction.
'You- me! Race buddies!' Blue announced that day, cornering the dark male on a forked route beside the entrance of a arch plug.
'Wha-?' Was all Shadow managed to express, jaw slacking with concerned disapproval.
Presently, two weeks later, Sonic was swinging his legs under the bench seat next to him, beaming fondly at the ebony hedgehog as if no one else mattered; ever so slyly, the speedster nudged closer, gazing ecstatic emerald hues, 'Race me? Go on~'
'No.' Shadow huffed, pressing his back spines further into the seating, 'I don't want to race.'
'How about we visit a game world together? Maybe, mine!~ It's got a wide race track and loop-de-loops in it!'
The life form scoffed and stood up, slouching away, 'Don't care.'
The azure hero merely hurried to his feet, strolling beside him with a cocky smirk, 'Aw, what's the matter? You chicken~ Afraid I'll beat you at track record- which by the way, I have! 1 second over a minute in Green hill Zone, but the fastest limit I ever made! So beat that!'
Shadow paused, exhaling heavily as gloved fingers pinched his brow, 'I really don't care. If you think you can intimidate me into racing you, think again, stubborn rodent.' Dark shoulders rolled in agitation as he pierced his trademark red glare towards the blue boy.
And then there was the other odd matter?
Whenever Shadow had gavin his infamous death stare to his worst enemies, or even the local citizens of game central, the responses were many but resembled closely in fear, backing down or simply running away screaming with fright. He could even make those candy crush kids sniffle and whimper into sodden tears.
Other villainous types respected his presence and gave caution to the wind about the narcissistic male.
Everyone, but Sonic.
Who instead of cowering in fear or giving so much of a whimper, gave a strange doey-eyed gaze; darkened emeralds twinkling softly, and the smirk on peach muzzle slackens to a dopey quirk. One blue ear bends down too, giving the speedster an unusual dorky expression.
This confused Shadow greatly, which also infuriated him as well.
'Forget it.' he scoffed under his breath, proceeding to walk onward and ignore.
Sonic lamely shakes his head, scratching cheek awkwardly and then returns the cocky demeanour, pushing after Shadow to 'race' him still.
'Wow~' was all Sonic could utter, that first time two weeks ago, when he was halted in his tracks, gazing misty eyed at the eccentric new comer.
It was a dark furred hedgehog, similar looking in height and shape to himself, but adorned with red striped markings on his quills, limbs and calves; golden brackets shimmer from swinging arms and crossing ankles of steel rocket boots, as the sapient gracefully streaks across the room.
His speed was breathe taking, and his form with appealing on a whole new level.
The hero of classic Sega, inwardly swooned as his 6-bit heart skipped a beat and before he knew it, was consciously chasing after the ebony stallion on legs. With a gleeful smirk, Sonic met his match face to face, fixated on the fine slanting brow meeting nose and devilish red eyes.
'Wanna race?~' Blue asked proudly, heart thumping a million miles a second with the pace of his running feet.
'You're such a persistent pest, ain't you?'
'See?~ You're warming to me already!'
'I was being rhetorical.'
Shadow was walking back to his portal; ahead he saw the GUN troops swagger up the steps, taking their place on the transit port, and the gliding spook of the overlord, float over to his cart.
'Play a good game~' Sonic waved over, forever grinning at the descending male; Shadow rolled his eyes, sat down and cast a final glance, before the surge train hurried into their cord processor, taking them straight to the opening.
As the wide window to the outside public arcade loomed, Shadow noted the rising sunbeams spilling from the human world door panes, and the silhouette outlines of eager customers ready to play. Despite becoming used to this system, it didn't make him feel any better.
Next moment, he was at level one and racing down a broken motorway, chasing a sting ray type alien with a cannon blaster, whilst his controller tapped endlessly on the 'chaos spear' gauge.
He processed towards the collapsed building blocks, and on cue, a timed explosion of fire and brimstone burst under his gliding form, before he tucked and rolled smoothly on rock platform, shooting expertly at the worm plant-sprouting monsters, raising up and attempting to bite his legs off. He smoothly flipped and shot a green orb of energy at them, before bursting the head off another with a single bullet missile.
His avatar side stepped the area, obviously searching the debris for hidden secret compartments or extra ring boxes, before sweeping up into a sonic spin and rocketing along a corroded road. His obstacle was blocked by the black creatures, mainly boulder hunched rogues stomping menacingly. Shadow knew how to defeat them, but his purpose was to follow the controllers path, and was forcefully turned around, shot in the back and tossed to the floor, flickering uncomfortably as a shower of his collected gold rings scattered out around him.
He mentally cursed the controller for performing a lame manoeuvre and animated jumping back to his feet, before the button for his speed boast was tapped, and shot into the aliens repeatedly.
Skidding back a moment, Shadow spied a sly peek to the window, seeing the same tongue-tied concentrated face of another teenager, gazing down at his movements, and then his frame paused. Only for a hesitant second, but it was enough to register.
Beyond the window point, Shadow could see the bulk shapes of the consoles, all colour schemed to the game's taste; the pink peppy candy racing 'Sugar Rush' with the adorable avatar children smothering other races in chocolate-caramel cake swirls, or the bright red 6-bit 2D console of classic Fix-it Felix.
And then he also noticed the blue colour schemed box decorated in gold rings and hexagon green landmarks of Sonic the hedgehog's game- and watching the 2D pixel flat speed run of the floating roads and loop-de-loops switching across the screen, he realised something was wrong?
That the small 6-bit avatar of Sonic the hedgehog, the fastest hero of his console, which he had boasted about to Shadow repeatedly since they met, was running somewhat slower.
And sloppier than usual.
At first assumption, Shadow guessed the player wasn't experienced with the speed run, but when the button for Sonic's jump motion was pressed, he hopped lamely and just wiggled from a face fall, jogging oddly throughout the course.
The dark hedgehog put it to the back of his mind and returned to his game scheme, scouring the military war zone city; but every now and then, he glanced up, pretending to animate a round jump or swivel, just to take a peek at the supposed mistimed running actions, and see the blue speedster cock up once again.
At some point, the player frustratingly gave up the game after completion and Shadow saw the time clock in the far left top corner.
Sonic had excelled his run limit of the track five times over.
Meanwhile, Shadow blazed up a forked landmark, shot towards the beastly overlord and began a boss battle, putting his thoughts about the hero's odd motions aside for now. He couldn't explain his curiosity today but the other's actions were very unusual.
'What are you doing?' Shadow questioned later that night, standing before the blue boy, who appeared like a deer struck by headlights.
'Don't act dumb.'
'I don't know what you're talking about?' Sonic shrugged in defence.
Ebony scoffed, arms folded over his fluffy white chest fur, 'You know what I'm talking about? Were you glitching in your game?'
'What makes you say that?' The other grimaced an odd half smirk, slightly sheepish, 'I don't glitch- Were you watching me?'
Shadow seemed miffed and averted his gaze sourly, 'I'm just stating your actions earlier in programmed play was.. odd. To say the least.'
'Are you concerned about me?' For an odd reason, Sonic sounded almost too keen there.
'Unlikely.' Dark muttered, 'But you do admit your actions were not usual of your stated purpose, agree?'
'You know you sound like a thesaurus when you talk like that?~' The cocky smile returned, followed by coy half lids.
'Forget it, hedgehog.'
Shadow started to walk away then.
'Wait?' exclaimed Sonic.
The blue hedgehog appeared to pause for longer than necessary and averted his gaze, rubbing the back of his neck, struggling how to phrase his next words..
'You-- er, wanna come over to my game world, you know, like hang out or whatever?..'
'I think I made it clear last time, I am not faintly interested.' Ebony brooded, crossing over wrists.
'Yeah, but I figured you might of changed your mind at some point-'
'-we don't have to race.'
Red eyes bored into the other, 'Why are you so intrigued in inviting me anywhere with you?'
'Why? Because we're friends.'
'No we're not..'
'Well, we could be friends then!'
'Nada.' Dark dead panned, 'I don't make friends, nor need any.'
'Aw, come on, everyone needs a friend!~'
'I certainly don't. And you still haven't answered my question?'
'What question?' Blue slurred lamely.
Which was when Shadow chose to lean in closer than socially acceptable, narrowing his eyes into widened greens and inching pointed nose a millimetre from the resembling one, 'Why. Do. You. Want. To be. My. Friend?'
The reaction in return was instantaneous; Sonic gulped thickly, appearing doe-eyed just as before, yet a new significant difference occurred.
He started blushing bright red, colouring his cheeks in a rosy hue, emitting a strangled weak chuckle.
'Are you mocking me?'
'Why is your face all red?'
Next thing that Shadow knew, a sonic boom erupted away from him with a heavy blast, leaving a thick heated cloud, and the blue streak soared fast across the other side of the hall, leaving the hedgehog blinking dumbly.
'Okay.. that was odd indeed?' Ebony mumbled.
(to be continued..)