The chiroptera roared as the ebony hedgehog made his entrance. He in turn wasted no time in swiping his new weapon at them. It was a long sword, a katanna, which he apparently picked up while he was abroad and it easily sliced through the beasts. Sounds of crystal shattering like glass the moment they hit the ground filled the air. Within a matter of minutes, all the chiroptera that surrounded Shadow, Sonic, and Rouge were annihilated.
"Damn, thanks for the save, Shads." Sonic quipped with a thumbs up.
"Mind telling us where you have been all this time." Rouge inquired.
The crimson-splashed male did not respond to either of them. He simply picked up and started to leave.
"Hey wait a minute, where are you going?" Sonic exclaimed.
"To find the other chiroptera." Shadow replied in such a stiff tone, that it nearly made Sonic and Rouge flinch.
"But you can't just leave." the ivory bat protested. "We need you back at base."
Shadow suddenly jolted and halted in his steps.
Then the midnight warrior collapsed to the ground, with Rouge and Sonic barely managed to catch him.
"We better get him back to the fort." Rouge said. "This looks bad."
"Yeah..." Sonic replied.
Back in their 'country home', Rosy was lying across the carpeted floor in a bedroom, kicking her feet back and forth as she scanned through the various magazines and newspapers collected through the past week. She mostly looked at the pictures, hardly reading any of the articles. To the pale pink hedgehog's left, lying in bed was Amy. She looked terribly ill from her 'pregnancy'. She had been receiving blood transfusions almost daily. These days the sakura hedgehog was very fragile. But to the astonishment of Dr. Finitevus, Amy was carrying on as best she could. Eventually, hopefully, if Mephiles would let her, she wanted to see Shadow again. She wanted to know if he was alright, if he was safe.
Amy cracked her jade eyes open and weakly looked about the room. It was dim because the curtains were closed around the window, but Amy could tell that it was a bright sunny day. She was sorry and disappointed that she couldn't be out there to enjoy it. Her ear twitched to a low humming and instantly recognized the voice.
"R...rosy?" the cherry-pink female called out.
The Chiroptera Bride instantly jumped to her feet from the floor.
"I'm here, Amy Rose." Rosy purred. "What is it?"
"....wuh-where's...Mephiles?" Amy asked.
"Oh! He had to go out with Alicia! But don't you worry, Amy should be back real soon!"
The young flower let out a sigh. She noticed that Alicia had been taking Mephiles out quite a bit lately. Amy had to wonder if the intention was to get him away from herself. But as Rosy pointed out, she needn't worry. As long as Rosy was there, nobody else would be able to touch her unless Mephiles allowed it. And Rosy wasn't going to leave Amy's side anytime soon. Which was something Amy was actually grateful for.
"Are ya hungry, Amy Rose? Do you want something to snack on?" the crazed vampiress asked.
Another thing Amy could be grateful for is constantly being on Rosy's softer side. You could hardly tell that she was an insane blood thirsty monster this way.
"No....thank you, Rosy." the sakura hedgehog croaked. "I'm not really hungry at the moment."
"Well, alright then. But just remember, Mephy wants you fed as much as possible!" Rosy sang with a tut in her voice. "Gotta keep up your strength for the babies!"
"....Yes, I know..."
Amy closed her eyes and drifted into slumber again.
Back at the fort, Shadow was put in bed by Rouge and Sonic. He hadn't woken up from his fainting spell since the night before, which sort of alarmed the ivory bat. She put him a blood transfusion through an IV just in case while monitoring his condition.
Sonic came into the room with a freshly brewed cup of coffee. Rouge was sitting at a small desk with a lap top computer running.
"So what's up?" the cyan hedgehog said.
"I've been studying Shadow's temperature patterns." Rouge explained.
"I have some suspicions, but I want to be sure about it."
"What would some of those suspicions be, pray tell?"
"....Well, according to what I've been studying for the past three hours, Shadow's been exhibiting signs of another hibernation cycle."
Sonic nearly choked on his coffee.
"You're kidding, right?" he sputtered.
"Like I said, I need to make more observations." the snow white female said. "But from the way his body temperature is fluctuating, it looks like he going into the early stages of hibernation."
"Well that's just great. If he is going into hibernation, theoretically, how long does he have?"
"That's the thing. I just don't know at this point."
The cerulean speedster let out a groan and hit his head against the wall. Rouge rose from her seat and went to check up on Shadow's IV. When she was just a few inches away from his bed, the ebony hedgehog suddenly shot his ruby red eyes with a gasp and shot up from his bed. Before either of them realized it, Shadow tackled Rouge to the floor in a blind frenzy. Sonic quickly rushed over towards them to get the crimson-splashed male off of Rouge.
"Shit, Shadow calm down!" the royal blue male shouted, trying to pull Shadow away.
Shadow finally came to his senses and lifted himself off of Rouge and turned away from both of them.
"....why did you bring me here?" Shadow asked in a hushed voice.
"Why do you think?" Sonic retorted. "You honestly believe we would've left you there on the street?"
The ebony hedgehog became silent once again. Then he started out of the room.
"Wait, where are you going?" Rouge called out.
"I'm going after Mephiles." Shadow said simply. "He is still out there."
"Don'tcha think we know that?" Sonic replied. "We've been bustin' our asses to pick up dirt and getting rid of the lousy Deathdealer Corps. Well, most of us, Knux has on the bottle all this time."
"That's irrelevant to me." Shadow interjected quietly.
"What the hell do ya mean by that?"
The midnight warrior didn't answer. He continued to walk into the hall and then out the front door. Rouge watched him pitifully.
"He certainly had changed." she murmured.
"Great, first Knuckles, now him." Sonic ranted.
As Shadow exited the fort, he was met by Snively who was just returning.
"Leaving us so soon, Master Shadow?" he inquired matter-of-factly.
"....You're Colin Robotnik. Ivo's cousin." the crimson-splashed male deduced.
"That I am. Uncle will be happy to learn of your return, I'm sure."
"Sorry, I have not."
"Oh? Have you already forgotten what Red Griffin Syndicate stands for?"
"....I need to kill Mephiles on my own. It's my burden to bear alone."
For a moment, the two were silent.
"This may come as a surprise to you, but the burden also lies upon my family. When our great-grandfather raised both you and your brother the way he did." Snively explained. "Of course, he could not possibly have foreseen the disaster that occurred at the Zoo. Gerald, may he rest in peace, created a monster. And now it's as much as the family of Robotnik's responsibility to destroy that monster as it is yours."
Shadow had suppressed a growl.
"It...would be better if you did not." he murmured. "I do not wish to morn for more dead comrades."
"That wouldn't mean your sister now would it?" Snively asked in a frank tone. "As far as I'm concerned, there's no evidence that she's.....not among us."
Snively was careful not to sound insulting or insensitive towards Shadow who definitely was not in the mood to hear about Amy. Without another word, the ebony left the company of the vampire slayers. Snively let out a sigh and went back inside the fort. He found a surprised Sonic and Rouge in the foyer.
"Well? Why don't you make yourselves busy and put a call to the Doctor." the small man retorted.
"And tell him what?!" Sonic retorted back.
"That Shadow's returned, what else?"
Both Sonic and Rouge exchanged glances.
"Um, are you sure about that?" the cyan hedgehog asked. "Because I think he just made it perfectly clear that he won't work with us."
"He'll rejoin us, eventually." Snively replied with shrewd confidence in his voice.
They both watched Snively descend into the hall to which Sonic shrugged at Rouge.
Later that day, Snively found Knuckles in the kitchen again. But this time, there wasn't any liquor in front of him.
"So, have you finally decided to cease milking the booze, Master Knuckles?" he asked.
Knuckles let out a growl.
"I heard Shadow came back." he grudgingly said.
"Yes, that's correct." Snively replied.
There was a silence between them.
"So, are you ready to return to the field?" Snively asked pointedly.
Knuckles didn't answer, but Snively could tell that he was very deep in thought and at war with his conscience.
"I'll leave it to you to decide then." the diminutive Robotnik said as he turned to leave the room.
Alicia and Dr. Finitevus were in the albino echidna's lab overlooking a tank containing budding Deathdealer Corps. Progress seemed to going smoothly, however there was a slight hitch.
"The Cell 64 isn't performing as fast as it used to anymore, isn't it?" Alicia observed.
"Well it is older data, my dear." Dr. Finitevus told her. "I can enhance a little, but that will be it."
"Will that be able to speed the transformations up?"
"At this point, we'll need an outside trigger to accomplish that."
The auburn squirrel thought for a moment, then once a realization hit her, a wicked smile came across her face.
"I do believe I have a solution for that." she purred.