Shadow rose early the next morning and began making another couple cups of ramen for breakfast. He didn’t find the cheap meal all too appetizing, but his worn body needed the energy. He forced himself to eat as Black Doom stirred from his slumber; the noodles slid down his throat, warming his chilled body from the cold that the autumn morning brought.
As the alien slowly sat up and rubbed his eyes, Shadow paid him little attention. He could only wonder of what awaited them at G.U.N.’s headquarters; he promised himself that their departure would be today, and he was determined to keep that promise. He couldn’t imagine how tired Black Doom must have been of Earth; if he was to further heal and make a full recovery, he needed to go back home.
His thoughts ended as Black Doom made his way to the small, dwindling fire. The alien sighed as he knelt on the ground, the oversized black coat trailing behind him. Shadow merely gave him the other cup of ramen, refusing eye contact.
“I appreciate it,” Black Doom said. Shadow nodded once in response. “I trust you slept well?”
“Yeah, I slept fine,” Shadow replied bluntly. He made a point to not speak of the events that transpired the night before, and Black Doom seemed to follow suit. Shadow stretched, but found his skin constricted by stiff gauze. He growled in frustration and decided that perhaps he ought to let his wounds ‘air out’, as humans said.
As Shadow undid his bandages, he found that his once-severe wounds were barely visible. Small marks were all that were left behind. He healed fast, but it had been mere days. Shadow never healed so quickly. He wondered for but a moment if being so physically near to his biological source of life had affected the healing process. Finding no need for the bandages any longer, he cast them into the fire.
“You look well,” Black Doom said as they dissolved into ash. Shadow nodded, almost forgetting the fact that the injuries came from Black Doom himself.
“I feel a lot better,” he replied. “I haven’t healed so fast before. It’s kind of astounding.”
“That’s good,” The older hedgehog hummed a thoughtful tone as he unfastened his bandages as well. “I feel discomfort still, especially in my stomach area, but it’s not detrimental. It seems we’re both doing a lot better than anticipated...”
Shadow offered a cup of ramen to Black Doom, who took it hesitantly. He didn’t seem all too eager to eat it, either, but ate it all the same. Funny, Shadow thought, that the high and mighty Black Doom was now silently tolerating the circumstances; he couldn’t help but to wonder if something inside of him was changing.
“Our close contact must be affecting our recoveries,” Black Doom mused aloud. “I can’t imagine another reason. We’re fast healers, but not on this scale.”
His creation nodded absentmindedly. Something within him had shut his openness to bonding with Black Doom down; perhaps, he realized, it was being so close with him in the first place. Love and affection was not familiar to him in the least bit. There was a reason he stayed alone most of the time.
Yet the more he thought about it, being with Black Doom had its perks. Ironically enough, he felt relaxed around him when the time came around. After their long discussion in the rain, Shadow discovered how much more to him there was than he thought. He was a descendant of a divinities—a kin to famed and determined warriors. Black Doom knew of things that the greatest minds of Earth couldn’t dream of knowing. He knew so much about Shadow, too...
The ebony hedgehog looked to the sky. Going with Black Doom was only a few words away. All he had to do was find them and push them out, one by one.
Black Doom suddenly perked up at the timid tone in Shadow’s voice. He stared attentively at the hedgehog, waiting for him to continue.
“Do you think I could...” Shadow trailed off.
Something suddenly snapped inside. This was wrong, and there were so many voices in his head telling him so. Maria, Gerald, Sonic—it was as if he heard every human’s voice pleading for him to stay on Earth and protect them.
Shadow backed out of the question at the last second.
“Do you think we could get going soon? When do you think you’ll be ready to go?” he asked.
Black Doom hardly responded physically, as if he had expected the question far in advance. Instead, he merely closed his eyes, deep in thought.
“I’m far finished with this primitive lifestyle,” he responded before shoving a wad of noodles into his mouth, “so I’m ready anytime you are.”
“Good. We’re ready now, then.”
As the day passed, the Commander sat silently within the confines of his office. His gloved hands remained folded beneath his chin, eyes fixed upon his computer screen. His patience was wearing thin; his soldiers were to send reports as soon as even the slightest trace of the fugitives’ whereabouts showed. He received no such thing since the deployment of the troops.
He brought his hand up to his forehead. Shadow the Hedgehog was no fugitive; he didn’t deserve to be chased down. He was a hero to the world, yet in a blink of an eye, he changed face. Why? He could have had the perfect life and be the happiest he ever could have been, yet he had to run off with that horrid monster.
He saw enough of that thing to know it wasn’t of this earth. The Commander thought of the hedgehog to be insignificant when his men first brought it back to headquarters. As the scientists soon discovered, though, the hedgehog’s “bump” on its forehead turned out to be a disturbing third eye. Since that news, he couldn’t think of the hedgehog to be anything other than Black Doom...but how was that possible? Shadow killed him, didn’t he? Furthermore, why would Shadow assist the alien bastard after all he’d been through?
It made no sense. There was nothing that could explain his actions...except Shadow knowingly and willingly betraying humanity itself. Could there have been an underground plan between those two? Was Black Doom’s demise staged?
The Commander sat back in his chair. This situation was wearing on his nerves quickly. He had a grandchild that he longed to see. He wanted to be home. He wanted to sleep; he had not done that in days.
Just as he closed his eyes, the phone shattered the silence in the room. His ears rang as he jolted upright, slamming his knees into the desk. Cringing, he reached to the phone and pressed the speaker button.
“Yes?! What do you have?”
There was a brief moment of static from the other end. “Well, sir, we’re in the forest north of Westopolis and, though it might not be exactly what we’re looking for, we do have something.”
“We found a bag of supplies and remains of a campfire. It looks fresh, but...this place is abandoned.”
It was enough evidence for the Commander. “Take cover and wait in case something returns.”
“But, sir, what if this is just some hobo’s stuff? What if this is a waste of time?”
The aged man clenched his fist. “It’s better to exercise precautions than missing them completely, soldier. Arm your weapons and assume secure, hidden locations. Wait for any approaching parties; if they’re the fugitives we’re looking for, open fire.”
The soldier on the other end hesitated before responding, “understood, sir. Over and out.”
The line disconnected as the Commander withdrew his gloved finger from the phone. He sighed, satisfaction tugging his lips into a smile. Shadow may be caught in the crossfire, but as long as Black Doom was dead for good, he didn’t care. The only matter that bothered him was why the location was abandoned in the first place. If those two indeed resided there, why did they leave?
And then there was the matter of Sonic. He told the Commander himself he had no idea where Shadow was. He promised. That blue hedgehog could be so difficult to read at times, though, surprisingly enough, and this was a time where he truly doubted Sonic’s word. As little as the two interacted, they had ways of bonding that was indescribable. Sonic often reached out to help others in their times of need. Was he protecting Shadow or...
The sudden blaring of sirens interrupted his thoughts. The noise came from behind the door, followed by shouting and running. The Commander would have leapt from his seat if his phone hadn’t rung again.
“Commander, stay where you are! There’ve been multiple sightings of intruders in sector eight—we’re scrambling to find these bastards but a couple of men are coming to protect you!”
The Commander didn’t answer. He merely stared at his desk. Of course, he bitterly thought; he should have known where they would go. Where else but here? He cast his eyes to just right of his desk where Shadow had deposited a white Chaos Emerald the day of the escape. It still lay there. That, he knew, was what those two wanted. No doubt they wanted to gather the Emeralds again and take the world by storm.
He opened his desk drawer and found his pistol. Its new home was now on the Commander’s side, loaded and ready to be fired.
Black Doom would die today.