Disclaimer- I don't own Sonic and co.

Last chappie guys! I hope you enjoy!

Chapter 46- The start of a new life

"We're done here. We can go now."

Shadow remained silent, not responding to Boom immediately. His sharp scarlets lingered on the chameleon who stumbled closer to him, having been shoved forward. Sabo barely managed to catch himself, keeping from falling on his half-burnt face at the Ultimate Lifeform's feet. The reptile was dripping wet, most of the blood washed off of him. His breathing was shallow and erratic as his legs visually shook.

Penumbra had healed his broken bones, Shadow observed, At least, somewhat. It was obvious that merely standing under his own power was a painful struggle for the other.

Sabo's only hand was clutching where his left arm should've been, fingers trembling as they covered the hastily healed tissue. The reptile's swollen amber eye was dull and slightly unfocused as it met Shadow's gaze.

The ninja's voice was barely a whisper, hoarse and broken to pieces. "Y-You're going to regret…n-not killing me…"

"I doubt it." Shadow's reply was crisp, uncaring. That was the same as telling him that he would regret not giving Sabo what he wanted. Not in his long lifetime.

Shadow's attention then drifted over to Boom, who was standing behind the chameleon with his arms crossed. He was damp and less stained as well. "You're right," the striped hedgehog agreed, taking one last look at Kingdom Valley. He would be glad if he never stepped near this place again. "It's time to go back." He peered over his shoulder at the others, whose expressions were ranging from shocked to utterly sickened.

Sonic was in that latter category. He could barely look at the chameleon. He was thankful that the severed limb was nowhere in sight. "Good idea, Shads…"

Shadow nodded. "Because of the condition of the Chaos emerald I have-" That they had to take care of soon…somehow. They couldn't leave the gems the way they were. It wasn't natural. "-I'm going to have to be careful and only take a few of you at a time."

Red shrugged. "Still way faster than the plane."

Boom rose a brow when Shadow regarded him. "Restrain the chameleon until I get to him."

The azure hedgie cracked a smirk. "With pleasure." Boom twisted Sabo's arm behind his back, ignoring the pained hiss passing through the reptile's gritted teeth.

Satisfied with that, Shadow went to approach a specific hedgehog and fox. TT and Rosy both blinked up at him. Shadow exhaled through his nose, still hating the fact that he was useless in healing the pinkette. "I imagine that you two want to get to the hospital as quickly as possible."

TT adamantly nodded, Rosy now focusing on his lip movements. "Y-Yeah…" That, and the fact that he desired to be as far away from Sabo as possible. "We should see if they could do anything f-for her…"

"They sh-should because it's their job, right?" Rosy attempted to smile, but it fell short.

Grey came over and managed the smile she couldn't. "It'll be fine, alright?" he said, careful of his articulation. "You know what? To make you feel a little better before you go to the hospital…" Grey directed his words at the striped hedgehog. "Why don't you take her to wherever Blazey's being kept? She makes anyone's day better."

Shadow narrowed his eyes at him before understanding. He glanced at the others, mainly the foreigners. "You haven't told him yet?"

Grey blinked confusedly at him before addressing the rest. "Told me what?"

"Enlighten him," the Ultimate Lifeform simply uttered before saying the magic words. The setting changed drastically from the flooded ruins to the bustling city of Station Square.

Shadow didn't bother apologizing to the citizens on the sidewalk he had frightened with his sudden appearance. He was too busy scouting out the hospital, for they hadn't reached the front doors of the building like he had wanted to.

TT subtly frowned as he eyed the blood splatters on the darker Mobian's fur. "Shadow?" When he gained the hedgehog's attention, he continued, "Shouldn't you c-clean up so people won't see you…like this?"

Shadow didn't need to check to know that he looked like he had just come out of a slasher film. "They're used to it." It was true; the pedestrians just walked around them without a second glance. "They've seen worse." He pointed down the street, having found the hospital. He hadn't missed his mark too badly. "There it is." TT followed his finger. "Have them phone the Rabbit's home for updates. That's where I'm depositing everyone."

"Okay…Got it." The fox was about to grab Rosy's wrists and head in that direction, but he noticed that she wasn't paying attention to them at all. The pinkette was facing the road, watching the cars pass by and the people chatting about with a pained grimace. She couldn't hear any of it. He could tell it was tearing her apart. TT placed a hand on her shoulder, jolting her out of her daze. "Like Grey said, it'll be okay…" He really wanted to do more for her, but…

Rosy sniffled. "I know…it's just…" She shook her head. "Nevermind…it's stupid. I-I can't keep thinking negatively." TT couldn't resist giving her a brief hug. He then spun his tails, becoming airborne. Rosy held up her hands, and the kit grabbed her wrists. Now off the ground, the pinkette thankfully nodded at Shadow, and he returned the gesture. They flew off.

The striped anthro watched for a moment, wishing them the best, before teleporting back where he came from.

He was greeted with the sight of Grey staring blankly at the ground with Rogue by him, mouth agape. The bat snapped his head toward Shadow when he had been spotted. "Dude…" Rogue took a step forward, brow creased. Shadow was reminded that he along with Grey weren't there when the devastating news was shared. "Is it true…? That our world is gone? That we can't…go back…?"

VC sighed heavily, rubbing the back of his neck. "We wouldn't lie…"

"No, you can't." Shadow closed the distance between him, Rogue, Grey, and VC before adding softly. "It's destroyed…" He looked at the psychic, who hadn't moved. "…along with everything in it." Still no reaction. Shadow wasted no more time. "Chaos Control."

Now, instead of being surrounded by towering buildings, Shadow aimed for a different location, one less populated and away from the hustle and bustle. Blades of grass crunched under multiple pairs of feet, Rogue and VC glancing around and Grey clenching his jaw.

They were in the front yard of the Rabbit's home.

The bat stressfully scratched his forehead, the scene change being pushed to the back of his mind. "I mean…I guess that it isn't that bad? It's the same world after all…" He eventually chuckled; this was crazy. But it was real. Time to embrace the insanity. "I just gotta look for a new pad! No big deal."

"Yeah, it could be worse." Grey's tone was mocking, but his weak glare was watery. "Like, I don't know, you could've had an adorable and precious pet left behind in a world that was being swallowed up by a black void, said pet oblivious to her peril until it was too late."

Rogue slowly rose his hands innocently. "…You got a point, dude."

VC clasped Grey's shoulder and squeezed it in reassurance. "I know it's gotta hit hard, Silver, but all is not lost, yeah?" The psychic gave him an 'Oh really?' look, and the croc wracked his brain. "There's still a Blaze around that you can actually talk to."

"That doesn't mean she just replaces my Blaze!" Grey bit before puffing his cheeks, breaking eye contact. "Plus, she's scary…"

Before VC and Rogue could chuckle, and before Shadow could roll his eyes, a familiar voice joined their conversation.


The quartet shifted their focus to the bee that had charged out of the house, flying full speed with a smile splitting his face in half. Given how ecstatic this bee was to see the striped hedgehog compared to his double, who was happy as well exiting the home with Cream and Vanilla but hanging back a bit, Shadow could safely say that the kid barreling towards them was CB.

"Shadow, you're here! You're saved!" The bee buzzed excitedly around Shadow's head before picking one spot. His smile waned a bit at the blood he saw, but it regained its wattage in record time. "You're bloody, but you don't seem hurt! I'm so glad! I've been looking out of the window for so long waiting and I thought something had gone wrong because I dunno, just because and-"


Shadow almost had to thank Grey for interrupting CB, for the bee's voice was not easy on the ears in large doses.

CB gasped when he took in the other three's conditions. "You're all bloody too!" He became a bit hesitant. "Did the evil Espio…?"

Grey waved his words away, stepping closer to the insect with a stern frown on his muzzle. "We'll talk about that in a second. But first, explain to me exactly why you didn't tell me about our Blaze?!" When CB's mood fell somewhat, most of Grey's ire dissipated. "Why…would you keep it a secret from me…?"

"I tried!" the bee attempted to explain himself, "but I guess they didn't want you to be distracted…or emotionally, you know…" CB simply watched as Grey explosively sighed, slumping to the ground and laying on his back, sniffling. "…like now…"

"Don't be upset, Mr. Si – Grey!" The rabbits and the other bee had reached them now, Cream giving the psychic a sad smile. "She'll be with you in your heart…so stay happy! She would want that."

It took a moment, but the white hedgehog's lips twitched upwards. It wasn't a smile, but it was progress. "You're a philosophical lil bunny, aren't you? But yeah…you're right…"

Cream smiled, proud of herself for cheering another up, and Charmy spoke. "I'm happy to see you too Shadow!" The bee glanced at VC for a moment, still a bit anxious. "But where's everyone else? Are they okay? Tell me that they're okay!"

"Don't worry little man!" Rogue advised, grinning. "Everyone's fi-" His grin fell as he rethought his phrasing, ears drooping a bit. "Uh...everyone's still breathin'!" That declaration didn't have the same energy as his first one.

Concern spread across Vanilla's face. "Is everything alright?" Her chocolate orbs roamed their bodies, brow furrowing. "You do have a fair amount of blood on you…"

VC bit his lip. "We're alright ma'am…It's not our blood."

Shadow cleared up the confusion before it completely settled. "We beat the evil chameleon." Vanilla's and the kids' expressions warmed. "I'm actively bringing all of the others back here." Shadow then ripped the Band-aid right off. "Most of us are unharmed, but the other Amy…she's being checked in the hospital so she can hopefully regain her hearing." There was no point in hiding this.

The good emotions were gone.

Cream covered her agape mouth with her hands, Vanilla in the same position beside her. "Mr. Shadow… Miss Rosy is…deaf?"

"No!" CB denied, while Charmy was gaping silently like a fish, "No, it's not true! It can't – Silver!" The frantic kid addressed the gloomy psychic. "Tell me that he's wrong!"

Grey was silent, and Shadow took that as a cue to leave them to it.

When Shadow had teleported away, taking Rogue, Silver, and VC with him, Knuckles eyed the blue speedster restraining a hurting chameleon for a moment before parting his lips. "Did you…really tear the other Eggman's arm off?" He wanted to not believe it because it was a Sonic, but then again, this version of him wasn't exactly the most peaceful of heroes.

Boom scoffed, marginally readjusting the reptile in his hold. "Yeah, I did." And he didn't regret it. "It was the only way to keep that bastard from pulling anymore stunts." Hardened emerald orbs snapped over to Eggman, who was listening with a stiff frame. "Be lucky that you were a victim doctor, or you would've gotten the same treatment."

The human didn't doubt the other for a second, and that lack of dubiousness made his stomach churn. Unlike Sonic, this blue blur wasn't opposed to targeting a living person. And Eggman had thought that Sonic by himself was enough of a nuisance…now he had to think about the possible threat to his wellbeing when he came up with his next scheme.

Knuckles couldn't even imagine watching that, nevermind being the one to pull it off. If he had been there, he would've stopped Sonic and demanded when exactly had he lost his mind. The guardian narrowed his eyes at Red. "Were you there when it happened?"

Red knew where this was heading. He was about to get an earful about 'sense of duty' and 'morals' and all that. Honestly, since he had believed that their Eggman would just quit afterwards, he hadn't been all against it. "Yeah, and no I didn't do anything because Sonic would've then targeted me and because Eggman would be out of commission. He wouldn't have been a threat anymore."

"He never would have shown his face again if this asshole hadn't butt in." Boom twisted Sabo's arm harder, and the chameleon cried out, the sound nothing more than a raspy groan. When the purple Mobian attempted to speak, Boom threw him to the ground and roughly stomped on his back, capturing the other's wrist once more and pinning it to Sabo's back scales.

Sonic would gladly dismember a robot, no problem. But a living person? That's where he drew the line. "It doesn't matter what…" He suddenly changed his subject at the sound of Sabo practically whimpering under Boom's weight. "Can't you just leave him alone? He's been through enough! He's learned his lesson!"

Boom couldn't believe what he was hearing. "Learned his less – did you not hear what he said to Stripes? Were you off in la la land as he basically shat on all of us?" He leaned more onto the reptile under him in spite. "Whose side are you on, hero?"

"No one's choosing sides!" Amy defended Sonic, not wanting this argument to escalate. She was sick of fighting. Nothing good came out of it. "Let's just calm down!"

"She's right, Blue." It wasn't clear who Rouge was addressing. The bat sighed, feeling more worn out than she had in weeks now that everything was handled. "We're all tired, cranky, and emotionally exhausted. Let's just soak in this win and think about how many hours of sleep we're all going to get."

Red let out an amused snort. "Now you're talking my language." Rouge grinned at him, and for once, Knuckles couldn't disagree with them.

"Right!" Penumbra, who was slightly squatting beside Boom and his hostage, nodded at the angry blue blur with soft maroon orbs. "Sonic, we tired." The striped hedgie then glared at Sabo. "No kill…but, we win." He refocused on a listening Boom. "Calm down?"

Boom scowled at him, but he eventually reeled himself back in. He understood where they were coming from. They've been through so much shit; however, Sonic just rubbed him in all the wrong places sometimes. That goody-two-shoed bastard.

"Fine," he spat, pointedly looking away from all of them.

Vector was honestly surprised that Boom actually listened. "Given his track record, I was expecting a lot more yelling," he whispered to his ninja neighbor.

"Even his energy is low." Espio sighed out, desiring to end the day at this point.

Silver had been close enough to eavesdrop, and he had to agree with the croc, given what he knew about Boom and his…questionable actions. And then it was Penumbra who dissuaded him too with his rather limited vocabulary. He was sure if Shadow had said it, Boom would've shouted in his face…

Speaking of that hedgehog, Shadow popped back into existence in front of Silver. The psychic nearly jumped out of his skin as the striped one rose a brow at Sabo's new position on the ground. "What happened?"

"Nothing too important, hon." Rouge dismissed the issue. "Who are you taking next?"

Shadow didn't question it. He didn't care that much. "I'm…" The Ultimate Lifeform trailed off, scarlet orbs finding the large Master Emerald sitting behind Knuckles. The gem he should have considered using instead of the somewhat unreliable Chaos emerald in his quills. It's been too long of a day. "Most of you actually, using the Master Emerald."

Everyone, including Knuckles, blinked at the jewel. The guardian then scoffed. "And you didn't think of that before because…?"

Shadow sent him an unamused glare. "Shut it, echidna."

"Yeah, we can't exactly blame him." Sonic snickered, rubbing the back of his head, pushing his feelings about what occurred before aside. "Our brains are fried, and the rock there wouldn't be the first thing I would think about either. Plus Knux, it slipped your mind too!"

"Whatever, let's just go already." Boom's voice was a borderline growl as he dragged Sabo up to his feet.

"Not everyone's going yet," Shadow said, and those who were gathering around him paused at that bit of information. He glanced around. "Omega, Espio, and Eggman…" Shadow's rubies hardened when trained on Sabo. "…along with him will stay here until I get back."


Shadow released a puff of air. "Control yourself for a bit, Omega. You're staying back so I can take you to G.U.N for repairs." He then turned to a subtly frowning Espio. "And you're needed when I turn Sabo in. We don't need any unnecessary confusion."

Espio nodded, understanding. Shadow basically had to explain this whole double business to the Commander, and he would facilitate the explanation by being proof of the whole thing. Also, Espio had to make sure that the police force saw a clear difference between them two.

"I'll take care of him, then." Espio strolled over to Boom and Sabo. He ignored his twin's tracking stare as he gestured for the speedster to relinquish his hold. Boom did so without any hesitation, muttering something along the lines of 'I'd gladly hand him over if I don't have to talk to those shits'. Espio's grip was tight even though Sabo wasn't going to get anywhere fast.

"What about me?" Eggman questioned.

"What about you?" Shadow replied smoothly. He gave the doctor a level look. "Victim or not, you were the one who initially let him in."

Eggman flushed with red-hot anger. "But there was no way I could've known that – you just can't leave me here!"

Shadow stood his ground. "Can, and will. Chaos Control."

There was a flash, and suddenly only four were left.

The human clenched his fists at his sides, grinding his teeth together. "That little-!" Eggman then marched over to Sabo and slapped the chameleon one good time on his charred cheek. Espio tightened his grasp as Sabo's head was wrenched to the side, a pained moan escaping the abused one's lips. Eggman thrusted a finger into the recovering ninja's face. "This is all your fault, you dreaded reptile! If you would have just followed behind me and not fabricate your own ridiculous plans, then I wouldn't be in this situation! Stranded!"

Sabo didn't respond, a permanent wince in his expression as he rode out the intense pain.

Eggman growled at him before leaning back and locking gazes with Espio. The human's frown was prominent, but the hostility in his tone all but disappeared. "If I wasn't who I am, I would thank you for setting me free from their control. But as I am, the number one enemy to those hedgehogs you call friends, I'm going to turn my back on you and see if I can salvage anything from that base that will get me out of these ruins."

With a huff, the doctor spun on his heel and began his trek over to the open hangar, but not before throwing Omega a dirty look. The robot responded accordingly. "I DISLIKE YOU AS WELL, EGGMAN." The man's glare only increased in intensity before he disregarded the bot altogether.

Espio watched him go, wondering how saving the doctor had affected this outcome. Well, it actually had not been retrieving Eggman that had a significant effect, being the first ones to imprint on Boar was the thing that tipped things in their favor…and apparently, he and Sabo had been sharing the same train of thought.

"If…" Sabo's voice was no stronger than before, almost being carried away by the breeze. Espio marginally narrowed his amber orb when his twin tilted his head back, meeting the detective's stare with his swollen gaze. "…B-Boar had been…on my side from the very start, you all would be dead."

Espio wasn't going to entertain that thought, no matter its truth value. "And? It didn't happen." Despite his horrid state, Sabo still managed to glare at him. He wasn't fazed at all. "Bringing it up won't change your future rotting in a jail cell."

His evil twin ceased eye contact, lowering his head and his volume. Espio could barely hear him. "If I ever get out…I'm coming for you first."

Before Espio could respond to that threat, Shadow had returned alone.


"I didn't need to hear any of his nonsense anyway." The hedgehog let silence reign for a moment, realizing that there was someone missing. He searched around before asking, "Where's the doctor?"

"He went down in the base to salvage something to help him leave this place." Espio jabbed his chin in the direction of the hangar. "I doubt he'll be able to leave under anything but his own power however."

Shadow quietly snorted as he approached them. "He needs the exercise anyway." All amusement left his face as he paused right in front of Sabo, arms crossed. They both eyed each other, radiating pure hatred. "I hope you never see the light of day again," Shadow uttered lowly.

Sabo said nothing; his jaw was locked.

The black anthro lost interest in him. "Ready?" he questioned the other two.

Omega's opticals flashed. "AFFIRMATIVE."

Espio glanced the way they had come, where the military plane was sitting atop the massive wall, alone. "What about the jet?"

The Ultimate Lifeform pondered that for a moment. "If G.U.N. cared enough, they'll track it down."

The detective hummed. "Fair enough."

Shadow didn't hesitate in uttering the particular words. The hedgehog blinked, and he was in Station Square once more. More specifically, right in the middle of the G.U.N base. There was a small uproar, and the quartet were at the business end of many firearms. The striped hedgie hadn't expected anything less from the armed military members.

Shadow held up a calm hand. "Stand down." The uniform soldiers were too awed by the two identical chameleons – though one was more damaged than the other – and Shadow's rather bloody self, but he really didn't feel like staring down the barrel of the numerous weapons. "Put the damn guns down."

That did it. The surprised members lowered their firearms, glancing between the red splattered mammal and the doubles. They still looked confused as all hell.

Shadow didn't wait for any questions. "Is the Commander in?"

"Uh…" A cadet began after scraping his jaw off the floor. "He should be…"

"Good." Shadow peered back at his trusty robot ally. "Omega, stay here and let one of the technicians fix you up." Tails would've been a better choice, but his workshop didn't exist anymore. When the bulky mech trotted away, Shadow took Sabo off of Espio's hands. He gripped the injured one's wrist none-too-gently and walked ahead briskly, not noticing nor caring that Sabo was stumbling over his own unsteady feet. "Let's go Espio so we can get this over with."

Espio trailed after the duo, a bit surprised that his twin wasn't struggling more than he was. Granted, there was no chance of him escaping, but the chameleon hadn't seemed like the give-up type. He had been horribly beaten – both figuratively and physically. Maybe he had just accepted his fate.

The detective stopped musing about his double. He was done with him. His thoughts drifted to a hyperactive bee. He was sure that Shadow had dumped everyone at the rabbits' home, so, "Did Charmy meet you out there?" The kid should have, unless he had been napping. However, given the circumstances, Charmy wouldn't have been able to reach that level of relaxation until they had returned from their mission.

His assumption had been right. "He did." Shadow nodded as they turned a corner. Espio's lips twitched downwards when the hedgehog glanced back at him with a, "He had been hounding Vector before I left, asking where you were and wanting the crocodile to say that what he heard about Rosy's injury was wrong."

"Of course," Espio muttered, guilt crashing into him yet again. He felt Shadow's eyes on him, but they were ignored and eventually they refocused forward. The chameleon only wished that he had done something to prevent that travesty. He quietly sighed, and the rest of the way was traveled in silence. All he hoped was that the hospital staff could do something…

Arriving at the doors separating them from the Commander's office, Shadow didn't bother to knock. He kicked them open with ease, somewhat startling the human at his desk, seemingly filtering through paperwork.

Discolored eyes then narrowed when they recognized the hedgehog barging in. When Shadow stopped before his desk, the Commander slowly stood out of his chair, a prominent frown curving his lips – apparently not thrown off by the blood on the hedgie. "Shadow the hedgehog, finally showing your face after that Metal Sonic incident, proving that you had been abusing your time off to recover in the hospital. Explain yoursel-"

"That's not what I'm here for, Commander." Shadow cut him off, disregarding the heat he received. "I'll be back on duty tomorrow, but right now, I have a criminal who must be imprisoned." He tugged a silent yet inwardly frustrated Sabo in front of him. A crease formed in the human's brow as Shadow explained, "He is convicted of first-degree murder on three accounts, treason because of him working with Eggman, and kidnapping on multiple accounts as well."

"Given his condition and current relationship with you and Sonic…" The Commander refocused his dubious look on the black hedgehog. "I can't say that I believe you, Shadow."

Shadow couldn't say that he hadn't expected this. "He's in this condition because it had to be done to defeat him." That was a bit of a stretch. It didn't have to be done. "And he isn't the Espio you're thinking about." The striped one peered at Espio, and the Commander's body went rigid, just noticing the second chameleon in the room. "He's the detective, the member of the Chaotix."

The human glanced between them two, and Espio figured that it was his cue. "He's right, sir. You know of the appearance of Metal, yes?" The Commander narrowed his eyes further, but he nodded in confirmation. "Then you must've heard of the two Sonics present. There are…doubles of most of our allies here now."

The Mobians practically saw the gears turning in the man's head. He returned his hard stare onto Shadow. "Explain that."

The Ultimate Lifeform grunted, clenching his fingers around Sabo's wrist and causing him to hiss at the pain. "I'll gladly inform you after this damn trash is locked away behind bars."

Espio observed as the man and hedgehog stared each other down, both refusing to budge. He would've let it go on, but he wasn't in the mood to stand here for an undetermined amount of time. Espio folded his arms. "Sir, do you want it spread around that you refused to detain a very dangerous criminal due to you wanting an irrelevant explanation?"

It took a while, but the Commander finally heeded his words. The man scowled at him before eying Sabo. "Fine, I'll take him-"

"We'll take him in." Shadow corrected. "I want the satisfaction of ripping his freedom away."

The human walked around his desk. "For you to come with me, he must've wronged you personally, agent."

"That's putting it lightly." Shadow nearly growled before holding the reptile's wrist out. "Keep him restrained for a moment. I'll be right back." When the Commander did so, Shadow teleported Espio and himself away before the human could question his statement.

Espio had barely realized that he had been brought to Vanilla's place before Shadow was gone again.

Everyone was there, as expected. There was light conversation filling the air, but the most interesting thing was that Penumbra and Grey were getting hosed down by Rogue next to the side of the cozy house. The bat was dripping wet – having been cleaned off beforehand – and was having fun blasting the liquid in the white and striped hedgie's faces when he got the chance.

"Just keep the water over there, and we won't have any problems." Blaze made sure her voice was heard over the gushing water.

Rogue focused on her, a mischievous glint in his eyes, but before he pulled a stunt that might cause him to receive third degree burns, he had noticed Espio standing in the back. The bat lifted up his free hand in a wave. "Hey man, you made it!" The rest of the Mobians turned to see who he was talking to – Grey twisting the hose faucet with his powers – as Rogue questioned, "Where's Shadow?"

Espio opened his mouth. "He's going with the Commander of G.U.N. to throw my twin behind bars."

Cheers rung out. Charmy sped over to him. "Yes! It's about time he gets put where he belongs! After all the bad things he's done!"

Boom, who was leaning against the front of the house, still preferred that rotten chameleon six feet under, but he could accept having Sabo in prison, out of their lives forever.

Standing beside him, Red released a long-winded sigh. "Finally…we don't have to worry about him anymore…or anything really."

Sonic grinned at the echidna, relieved as well that this ordeal was over. It was all in the past. "Well…you got have of it right! We don't have to worry about Sabo, but you guys do have to figure out uh…what you're gonna do next. This world's big enough for all of us, but…" He met the gazes of the foreigners. "You basically have nothing now…"

Red shrugged, that fact not bothering him. "Didn't really have anything in the first place. I was a drifter. It's the same here as it was in our home world. The only thing different is that the Master Emerald isn't my possession anymore." Amethyst orbs shifted over to said jewel by Knuckles. Red smirked. "I'll leave that job to you."

"As it should be," Knuckles huffed.

Rouge shook her head with a grin. "Come on hon, you know that you get lonely up on that island by yourself."

"I am not-"

"On the topic of being lonely…" Rogue tapped his chin, smirking the winged agent's way. "Do you have any roommates, Roo? If not, I could crash at your place until I find something more permanent…"

If Red would've rolled his eyes any harder, he would've pulled something.

Rouge's answer wasn't immediate. She was thinking, humming to herself as she gave the male bat a once-over. Knuckles wasn't as calm. "Don't tell me that you are considering letting him stay with you!"

The jewel thief rose a mocking brow at him. "And if I was? Why should it matter to you, sugar?" Her grin widened when Knuckles just sputtered and pointedly looked away. She then addressed Rogue. "While it's true that I don't have any roommates, my couch isn't very comfortable and my bed isn't even big enough to share."

Knuckles subtly relaxed at those words, and Rogue chuckled. He knew that she wasn't actually going to say yes. He just wanted to see the echidna's reaction. "That's too bad."

"Now that you tried and failed to flirt, how about we become roommates?" Grey asked Rogue, shaking off any residual wetness. The psychic smiled hopefully at him, trying his hardest to stay positive like Cream suggested. "You, me, and Charmy? Heck, even Vector if he wants! It'll be fun!" He threw the crocodile in too because Grey knew that they were good friends even before this fiasco, and the bat couldn't say no to that, right?

Absolutely crazy is more like it, VC thought. He could imagine the late nights where the bee had had too much sugar and refusing go to bed, and even worse, he could see Grey giving him more just for a laugh and… He was thrown out of his musings when Rogue smiled at him, apparently not thinking about the issues he was. But maybe…it wouldn't be so bad?

"Why the heck not?" He uttered defeatedly, and Rogue, CB, and Grey cheered in unison. The croc pointed at the bee. "But he gets no candy past five! No…noon!" The hovering kid deflated, but then the psychic whispered something to him that brightened him up again. VC figured it was something about sneaking sugar and giving him a headache.

Vector nudged him, feeling sympathetic. "If he's anything like Charmy, sugar could stay in his system for multiple days."

"Thanks for the tip," VC grumbled and his twin laughed.

"It's great that you're roommates now…" Tails pursed his lips. "…but you still don't have any money."

Grey froze before slumping. "Crap. You're right."

Sonic tapped his foot on the ground in thought before smirking. "I think I can help you with that! How 'bout I go lookin' for an apartment with you? There has to be a complex that likes me enough to let you guys stay there for at least a few nights no charge!"

CB zipped over to him, eyes wide. "Really? You think you can do that?!"

He snickered. "Sure!" Sonic raised a hand and clapped it with the excited bee.

Red let out a single chuckle as he linked his hands behind his head. "I'll tell you one thing, be lucky that this whole situation wasn't reversed, that all of you ended up in our world. The people in Station Square would've rather run from him than offer hospitality," he said, bobbing his head over at an indignant Boom.

Though it didn't matter how he felt about it – he honestly didn't care. Really. There was no way he was the tiniest bit jealous – Boom couldn't say it was a lie. He growled. "Shut up, Dreads. I wouldn't have asked them anything anyway. I would've just taken what I needed."

"Yeah, about that…" Sonic turned toward his double holding up a finger. "One, you can't act like you that here because you're wearin' my face and I don't want my free complimentary chili dogs taken away from me." Boom scowled at him, but didn't reply. Sonic held up another digit. "And two, where are you goin' after this, Boom?"

A particular gravesite popped into his mind, and his retort wasn't as scathing as he had liked it to be. "Don't worry about me." Boom sneered. "You're asking all these questions about where we're going to go, what about you?"

Sonic put a hand on his hip. "Believe it or not, this won't be the first time I've slept without a roof over my head. Sometimes I even prefer lookin' up at the twinkly stars." He grinned over to the kid fox next to him. "And well Tails, you haven't done it in a long time, but what do ya say to roughin' it tonight?"

Tails wasn't usually the outdoorsy type, but the few times he and his brother had slept outside, it had been fun. He was always up for pointing out the constellations. "I say yeah! The skies look pretty clear, so it shouldn't rain on us."

"Oh you don't have to do that…" Vanilla gestured to her home as she spoke. "We have plenty of room! And after all that you've done, you deserve a soft mattress at least."

"Our doors are open as well," Espio added with Charmy nodding enthusiastically.

Rogue felt terribly guilty. "Sorry bro about your house though."

Grey sighed, rubbing the back of his neck. "Yeah…we made you homeless…"

Boom watched as Sonic waved off the apologies with a small grin and politely declined the offers, actually wanting just to take it easy and have the breeze flow through his fur. Boom breathed harshly through his nose. When he was younger, still living in Central City, he would've loved people offering him comfortable beds to sleep on, but instead…

The azure hedgie ousted those thoughts, searching the yard to find a distraction. His emerald irises found Penumbra grasping the discarded hose, staring down the hole and shaking it like water would magically spout out. That was a good distraction as any.

"What about Penumbra?" he questioned, interrupting…someone. He hadn't been paying attention.

Penumbra had perked up at his name, dropping the hose and strolling up to Boom's side. His head was tilted, curious. "What…about I – er…me?"

Instead of Boom answering his inquiry, Cream bounded over to the striped hedgehog with a wide smile. She took one of his hands, squeezed it, and regarded her mother. "Mama! Mr. Penumbra can stay with us! He's nice and fun and…please?"

Vanilla hesitated for a moment. "Sweetie, I don't know…" She had learned about Cream's and Penumbra's time together, and while she appreciated him keeping her child moderately safe and happy, she was iffy about him staying. She didn't know him that well, and… Vanilla blinked when Cream hit her with the puppy dog eyes, and after studying the bunny's face, Penumbra did it too. It was surprisingly effective with his large maroon eyes, his folded ears, and his open expression.

Her resolve was cracking, and it didn't help that Blaze cleared her throat. "If you're hesitant, I can stay as well and keep an eye on him. I won't be returning back to my home immediately, so I can monitor him until he grows on you." And Blaze knew that Nummy would. The version of Penumbra she had met could've been likeable – disregarding how touchy he was – if she and Silver hadn't been laser focused on a mission. "If that's okay with you?"

There went Vanilla's worries, fluttering away with the wind. The rabbit gently smiled. "That's perfectly fine, and honey," she focused on Penumbra, "you can stay."

Cream cheerfully bounced up and down. "Yay!" She then jumped and gave Nummy a hug, and the striped one happily returned the gesture. Cream laughed, and Penumbra joined in with her. "Thanks Mama!"

"Thank you!" Nummy chirped, echoing the bunny.

Silver blinked slowly at the sight. Yeah, that was the Penumbra he was used to. The psychic then crept over to Espio, who had risen a brow at his approach. Silver awkwardly chuckled. "I hope that open door policy extends to me as well? I don't know Cream and Vanilla as much as Blaze does and I don't want to go back just ye-"

Espio looked vaguely amused. "You know that I wouldn't say no, Silver."

Yeah…he knew. It was still nice to ask though.

While they were talking, Amy was thinking about how strangely adorable Penumbra was. Like a puppy. Now she was inwardly wincing, because she just compared a Shadow – who was regularly comparable to a loaded gun – to a cute little animal and she didn't know how she felt about that.

She didn't dwell on it for long, since she had another concern. "We've been talking about places to stay…" Her voice had gained the attention of most of the others. "What about Rosy and TT? Where are they-"

The pinkette didn't get to finish, for ringing had caused her to pause. The sharp noise flooded out of the open front door of the cozy home. "That's probably them!" Amy exclaimed.

"I-I'll get it!" Grey suggested, having been closest to the door. Many emotions raged within him as he ran into the house, the ringing guiding him to where the phone was. He felt both happy and utterly terrified. If Rosy was fixed, he was going to celebrate like there was no tomorrow, but if she wasn't… No. He was going to think positive! Of course she was better, or at least going to get better!

The white hedgie eventually found the phone in the quaint kitchen. He nervously – no, confidently – picked it up, greeting, "Hello?"

The first thing he could make out was crying, and all of Grey's positive emotions vanished. Tears pricked the corners of his eyes before the other had even said anything.

"S-Silver…?" It was TT, and he barely managed to say Grey's name between his sobs.

The psychic had to keep himself under control, no matter how hard it was. "Tails? H-How…How did it go?" Horribly. He already knew the answer.

"She's…" There was a loud and lengthy cry. "They c-couldn't help h-her!"

Grey wiped away his tears before they properly formed, taking a deep breath. "What do you m-mean?"

"Th-They examined her and said th-that they've never seen something like her b-before!" TT was nearly hyperventilating. "There are things m-missing in her ears, but they're h-healed and the doctors…said that they c-couldn't…"

TT's words morphed into sobs just as Grey heard footsteps behind him. He peered over his shoulder at the suddenly packed room. The white mammal knew that his miserable expression was enough to communicate what was happening. His sorrow was contagious; a heavy silence blanketed the large group, the only exception being sniffing from Amy and Cream.

Grey returned his attention to the phone, trying and failing to steady his voice. "T-Tails…we can work through this… It'll…It'll be alright…" He had a vice grip on the device. "She's s-still Amy, still strong. She can make…the best out of this. Don't you believe in her?"

The sobs dwindled into whimpers and sniffles. "…Y-Yes…"

"It's just a l-little obstacle." Little? It was humongous. Rosy couldn't hear. That's… Grey pulled himself together; he couldn't lose it with an unstable TT on the other end. "She can b-beat it!"

The fox didn't respond for a second. Then he shakily asked something Grey didn't expect. "Can…I t-talk to S-Sonic? The one that w-we…"

TT choked on his words, but the psychic knew who he was requesting. But…Why? "Are you sure?" he whispered. This was the last thing he thought the kit would ever ask for.


"Alright…" Grey lowered the phone and faced the others. His golden orbs scanned the crowd – lingering on Sonic for a split second – before settling on Boom, who was toward the back. "He wants to talk to you."

Boom couldn't say that he wasn't surprised as he weaved through the compacted Mobians, reaching out and grabbing the device out of Grey's hand. He wanted to talk to him, out of all people?

The blue speedster frowned at the phone before putting it up to his ear. "I'm…here."

There was a pregnant pause before, "C-Can you…p-please…teach us s-sign language?" Boom's eyes flew wide as they dropped down to his unoccupied hand. When he didn't respond fast enough, TT started up again. "I-I know that we might not b-be…your f-favorite people but, a p-person's better than a b-book and-"

"I'll do it," Boom said softly.


"I said I'll do it, kid." Boom repeated it stronger, hand forming a fist. He breathed out heavily. Mephiles would've helped…

"…Th-Thank you…We c-can…start tomorrow…?"

"Yeah." Neither of them said anything for a moment, so Boom figured that his turn was over. He glanced over at those watching and held out the phone.

Espio saw his chance and took it. Boom stepped back after handing over the device. Espio bypassed the greeting altogether. "I'm sorry."

"E-Espio? What are you s-sorry about?"

The chameleon heard the despair in TT's tone and it made his chest clench. "That I didn't do anything to stop Bat. I could've done something, but I…"

"It's not your f-fault Espio, please don't bl-blame yourself!"

It was almost impossible not to, and Espio needed to make it up to them. Though it wouldn't fix things, it was something. "We were…talking about where you and your friends were going to stay now that this whole…adventure is over. The Chaotix house is open to you if you'd like to stay." Espio looked over at Vector and Charmy, and they didn't seem to mind. Their home was just big enough for three extras.

"Y-You're so nice Espio…thank you…"

The ninja nodded even though TT couldn't see. "You're welcome."

There was suddenly a hand on his shoulder. Espio tilted his head only to make eye contact with Sonic. He smiled, but it didn't quite reach his eyes. "Tell him that I'm coming to pick 'em up."

Espio nodded, and the speedster was gone. "Sonic's on his way to get you two."

There was a sniff. "O-Okay. I'll…hang up now."

And he left.

Every tortuous step he took increased his hate for everything, but more specifically, for Shadow and the ingratiating and uncomfortable collar around his neck.

A loud, high-pitched beep would pierce the air every second, never failing. It made Sabo want to stab his eardrums. It obviously had been given to him so he couldn't utilize his ability. Of course, it was Shadow's idea. That damned rodent. Damn him…and everyone else…

The irritating dinging gathered unwanted attention. Sabo just glared hard at the ground as he was guided through the halls of the prison, the prisoners jeering and taunting him from their cells. Some 'recognized' him from that detective agency. Sabo didn't care enough to harshly correct them, too busy attempting to and utterly failing at blocking out the beeps.

The reptile then nearly tripped over his own feet when he was shoved from behind. "Put more pep in your step, chameleon. I don't want to be in here all damn day." Sabo threw a withering glare over his shoulder, but of course, Shadow wasn't affected by it. The purple Mobian would have punched the hedgehog right in the face, but he was in a modified straight jacket, restricting any movement from his waist up.

Because he couldn't cause bodily harm, Sabo kept moving, increasing his pace only slightly. "I apologize if I'm inconveniencing you." The only response he got was another push. He scowled but kept quiet, following behind one of the guards here. The Commander hadn't felt the need to follow them inside after Shadow explained the twin situation. Sabo didn't know nor cared of the human believed it.

They turned a corner, and instead of cells, the wall was lined with window-less doors. They passed five of them before the trio stopped. The guard opened up the heavy metal door, and Sabo was met with the sight of a dirty mattress tucked in a corner. A dull flickering light barely illuminated the small space showing that the walls were heavily padded.

Before he could react to the fact that Shadow had prevented him again from getting what he wanted, a fist punched the back of his head, sending him sprawling. Sabo landed hard on the soft yet harsh floor, the burnt side of his face tinging in pain.

Sabo hissed as he struggled to sit up, his amber iris swirling with hatred as he focused on a smug Shadow. "Welcome to your own personal hell," the hedgehog said, "In other words, get used to solitary confinement."

The beeping was worse now, it echoing against the walls and digging into his mind. Sabo trembled in rage. "If I'm just staying in here, why in the hell do I have this collar?"

Shadow just smirked before nodded to the guard. The metallic door – which was padded on the inside as well, to his chagrin – was slammed, and the chameleon was alone. The beeping was even louder. Sabo growled to himself before he fought against the straight jacket, desperately wanting out.

He was soon panting with his remaining arm completely tired out in the middle of the floor. He had made no progress, and the beeping was incessant and loud. Sabo scooted backwards with his legs until his back pressed against a wall. He slammed his head back and clenched his fingers when no pain registered. He was truly trapped here with no escape. From this place, from the jacket, from this humiliating loss, from the stupid collar.

Chaos, just make it stop.

It didn't.

When Shadow teleported back to the home, the sun was hanging lower and the yard was nearly empty. The only ones around were Knuckles and Rouge, who had been conversing by the glowing Master Emerald before he had appeared.

Rouge raised a hand in greeting as he made his way over. "Hey hon. It's about time you came back."

Shadow resisted the urge to roll his eyes. "You know what I was doing Rouge. Where is everyone?"

The bat gestured over to the home. "Blaze and your dear double are in there with the rabbits." Shadow nodded. Penumbra would be fine with them. "My dear double, Grey, CB, and VC went with Sonic and Tails to go apartment hunting."

Knuckles lips twitched downwards, picturing Rosy's tears when she and TT had rejoined with them. "TT, Rosy, Amy, and Silver went with the Chaotix. The hospital couldn't do anything for her." He explained when Shadow opened his mouth. The Ultimate Lifeform didn't like that, not at all, but he couldn't do anything about it. "Interesting enough though…Boom's going to teach her sign language."

At the slight surprise on Shadow's face, Rouge subtly grinned. "He sure is. Really turned a new leaf. The Boom you first met and even the Boom I first met wouldn't have done that."

She was right. "Death affects people, Rouge," Shadow muttered, and the duo in front of him quieted for a while. The striped hedgie sighed. "Speaking of him…" He trailed off, waiting for one of them to finish the statement.

Rouge shrugged. "He ran off after Rosy and the kit came back. Just like Red, though he's probably doing something else other than sleeping." Knuckles grunted at that, mumbling something about lazy echidnas. The bat nudged him. "I don't blame him this time, hon. Today has been stressful."

"Fine," Knuckles ceded, "I'll give him that." The guardian then patted the large jewel beside him. "Now that you're here, Shadow, can you take us back to Angel Island? I want to put the Master Emerald back where it belongs."

Shadow nodded. "I can."

Rouge fluttered away from the rock so she wouldn't get caught up in the transportation as well. A smirk adorned her muzzle. "Why the rush, sugar? Sabo isn't going to bother us anymore, and Eggman…" She cut herself off, her confused gaze on Shadow. "Where is the doctor?"

"Still at Kingdom Valley. He'll take care of himself," he responded dispassionately.

Knuckles huffed. "Still. It needs to be home so Angel Island can become airborne again and so I can be at ease."

"I see what you're saying." Rouge waved him off. "No one wants stress wrinkles." Knuckles inwardly groaned. The agent then asked her striped partner, "Oh, are you coming in tomorrow, Shadow?"

Shadow weighed the question before answering, "Might as well."

Rouge's teal orbs sparkled. "Great! So you can tell the Commander that I'm taking tomorrow off." The bat flew away with a laugh. "A girl needs some relaxation!"

Shadow deadpanned as she left earshot. "She's impossible."

"Absolutely," Knuckles agreed.

Not a minute later, the pair and the gem vanished into thin air.

Shadow had a hunch to where Boom had gone, and his guess was proven correct when he had warped to a particular clearing. The azure speedster was sitting in the grass, knees folded up to his chest and his arms wrapped around them. His back was to Shadow, but a twitch of a blue ear told the striped one that his appearance hadn't gone unnoticed. Boom didn't acknowledge him though.

Blades of grass crunched under his skates as he silently walked over, ending up beside the other hedgehog. Shadow noticed that they were equidistant from where the Rabbit family and Mephiles were buried, the fresh dirt contrasting the surrounding green.

They didn't speak for a long while.

Scarlet eyes drifted away from the graves to Boom's face, which was staring blankly at the disturbed mounds of earth. Shadow returned his attention to the unseen bodies. "That was nice of you." He felt no need to go in more detail.

A breeze ruffled their quills before Boom responded with a heavy voice. "Mephiles would've done it."

Shadow folded his arms across his chest. "You aren't him though."

"Don't you think I know that?" Boom finally looked up at him, weakly glaring. Shadow met his gaze, clearly showing that he wasn't bothered in the slightest by the expression. The blue hedgie sighed before breaking eye contact, tucking his chin in the crook of his arms. "What are you doing here, anyway?"

He didn't oppose the change in subject. Shadow replied evenly, "The same thing you are." Mourning the ones who had shaped their future and had cruelly died for doing so.

They fell into silence.

Shadow stood still until he believed it was time to go. He took a step back, planning to skate and bypass using the Chaos emerald to get to his apartment. There was no rush, and the side-to-side movement was usually relaxing, perfect after this long day.

He walked away a few steps until a voice called out to him. "Tell me that bastard of a reptile is going through hell right now."

Shadow peered over his shoulder, seeing the other doing the same, and scoffed. "He's going through worse, I assure you."

When Boom smirked and nodded, Shadow took off. He was eager to take a long-awaited shower in his comfy apartment and not to worry about nefarious purple chameleons. He did have to do something about the eight emerald eventually, but right at this moment, he desired to rest.

The sun set over the graves, and Boom was still there. As stars shone high in the sky, he had simply laid down in the grass, sleep chasing his dark emotions away. He tossed and turned as the moon illuminated the night. At daybreak, he was snoring soundly, but by noon, he was gone.

The clearing remained empty until others visited, either in groups or by themselves. Friends of the fallen stopped by at various times during the day, Boom eventually making another appearance. He didn't stay this time however. When the evening sun set, shadows growing long, the site again was vacant.

Clouds soon blocked out the moon when it chased away the massive star, pitch-black darkness shrouding the area and remaining there for most of the night.

When dawn broke, the sun's rays shined down on Mephiles' empty grave.

Ooo…I wonder what that means? Yeah, cliff hangers are evil, but they hold a special place in my heart. My sadistic little heart.

Anyway yeah, that's the end of Reality Breach! But no need to fear, because as you can see, there shall be another after this! The rollercoaster's not over yet! Keep all hands and feet inside your cart at all times, because it's about to get rough! Well…maybe not immediately because I still have to iron things out, but eventually, yes! And like last time, I'll put up a notification in this fic when I post so you guys – who are awesome for staying on this ride for so long – know when the new story is up.

So until then, catch you all later!

PS- Infinite is so badass. I seriously can't wait for Forces.