Two Years Later…
Shadow stood at the end of the aisle, dressed in an all-white tuxedo. As he waited, he watched as his friends sat and spoke among themselves. He didn't allow his nerves to show on his face, but he knew that that would all change once he saw her.
The G.U.N. agent took deep breaths to calm himself. He glanced over at his friends for support. Chris and Jack, who was standing next to him at the moment, each gave him a small grin. He smiled in thanks, and when he turned his head back around to the aisle, he was faced with the most beautiful woman he had ever laid eyes on.
Maria's long golden hair fell in loose curls down her back, the shorter parts in the front hanging just above her shoulders. Her veil mostly covered her face, but Shadow could tell that she had little to no makeup on, as not to ruin her already lovely face. Her dress was amazing. Rouge had outdone herself this time. The skirt fell to the ground in a waterfall of white ruffles, with a few ribbons of silver cascading down the front. It was sleeveless, while also very modest. If Shadow had to choose one word to describe her, it would be 'perfect.'
As the music echoed through the room, he hedgehog girl started her walk down the aisle, with her blue brother on one side and her father on the other. She looked up, at Shadow… at her Shadow the Hedgehog… waiting there for her, and she knew that this was it. This was the day that she truly made herself one with the flame of her life. A day she would cherish forever.
As the two brought joyous light to their world through their union, visions of their past and future stirred within Ekimu. He witnessed a time when two young friends were set on a lifetime's journey. Even as Lucifer sought to destroy them, they feared not the face of darkness nor those who dwelt in the shadows. And now and forever more, they would face all hardships side by side... as husband and wife.
And so, the tale of the Jul Kendov comes to a close. But for Shadow and Maria, this was merely the beginning…
Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.
Prophecy and speaking in unknown languages and special knowledge will become useless. But love will last forever!
1 Corinthians 13:7-8
Home for the Holidays
At last, the bright light settled. The natural light of Mata Nui's morning star shone in the skies once more. Sonic and the gang, now fully restored, looked around. Takanuva was there as well.
Chris and Bunnie looked at their bodies. Their cybernetics were gone. They were pure flesh and blood once more.
"Where are we? What happened?" asked Amy.
"Is this because of Lucifer?" Sonic added.
They all looked around. The floating islands and crystal cities were full of Kendov flying around, celebrating. "Lucifer mahlaan!" they shouted repeatedly.
"Lot vokul qahnaraan!" Tahu shouted.
"Jul Kendov los ok vokullakriid!" Gali added.
"Lucifer suleuk los nahlot!" cried Lewa.
"Mu los vomir!" uttered Pohatu.
Ekimu flew in and landed before his brother. "It is done. Lucifer viik. The great evil has fallen. He who came before all others and has always been."
Chris spoke after that. "What about Shadow and Maria? Are they...?"
"Look!" Cream pointed up.
Above them, in the midst of the celebration, two distinct lights shone. One of the two lowered to the grownd first. Archangel Shadow held Archangel Maria, who had passed out from exhaustion. As the light around them settled. They reverted to their original selves.
Shadow held her close and smiled. "Sweet dreams," he whispered.
The Freedom Fighters and the Kendov came from all around, cheering and congratulating him. "Long live the Jul Kendov!" many shouted. "Hail them with great praise!"
"Wow, Shadow! That was unbelievable!" someone exclaimed.
"You saved us!" cheered another.
"That form was awesome!" Bokkun squealed. "Do it again! Do it again!"
But the coal hedgehog shook his head. "Pretty sure that was a one-time deal. Lucifer was trying so hard to keep us from finding true ultimate power, I guess he made it build up in us."
Then they looked up. The second light. Slowly lowered, and the crowd stepped back for its landing. As the light settled, a man appeared.
"Is that…?" Knuckles breathed in awe. Shadow grinned. He knew who it was.
As the light settled, the figure came more into view. They could see the man had bronze eyes, and flesh that was almost at the point of glowing. He wore a white robe with a royal blue sash. One look and they all could see wisdom as old as Mundus itself.
"NO WAY!" uttered Sonic as he realized who it was.
The Man smiled in a rather fatherly matter. "Peace be with you," He said. But everyone, except Shadow, was frightened. "Why are you troubled? Why these fears and doubts in your mind? Look at my hands and feet. See the wounds I was given when I last came to Earth. Feel, and you shall know that it is I Myself."
A number of the multitude came and felt, when they were sure it was Him, they all kneeled in reverence.
"I tell you the truth," He said, "the prophecy has been fulfilled just as it was given unto you. Lucifer has been sent to Oblivion once more, and all have been saved. It was for this reason that the people of Earth celebrated Christmas. But this holiday is not for the Earth alone. It is a day that all mortals on all realms, from the greatest to the least of these, was freed from Satan's wrath."
"Its all thanks to You," said Shadow as he carefully handed Maria to Sonic and stood up. "If You hadn't restored my life, Maria and I wouldn't have defeated him. I know You gave me Your true power needed to save everything. But what I don't understand is... what is Your true power?"
The Man smiled and shook His head. "I did nothing," He told him. "You didn't need to find My true power, Shadow. Believe it or not, you have always had it."
He nodded, and then He started to explain. "There is not one thing, but three things that last forever. Three things that you have in abundance. The first of these is faith. You are a man of your word, keeping each and every vow you have made with your earthly brethren. Though you have stumbled and drifted away, they were because you others forced lies into you. Despite this, you kept your greatest promise to protect the Earth.
"The second of these is hope. At an early age, you were told that you were created from evil. Your link to the Black Arms made you feel like a monster… a weapon… something only for misery and destruction. Regardless, you strived to be someone better. The gifts you were given from birth, you wished to use for peace and protection.
"The third and final of these is the greatest. And if not for Maria, you never would have received it, nor would you have learned to give it back. This is what was foretold: 'When the hearts of dark and light become one, the True Power of the Great Spirit will blossom, and even death will be overcome."
As He was speaking black Hedgehog looked at the former human girl in slumber. It took a couple of seconds, but he knew what He meant. "Faith… hope… and love… Of course. Together, faith, hope and love make the True Ultimate Power."
"It is the only possible explanation," Espio jumped in.
"It would seem a heart forged from evil, for evil, can make good after all," Ekimu added.
Shadow slowly took in the information being given to him. It all sounded a bit too fantastic to be real, but then again, it seemed to him that he hung on every word. The more he listened, the less he felt so… dark, even afterMaria had return.
The Man then knelled down to the black and red hedgehog and asked a very important question. "Garfield, son of Gerald, do you love me?"
Shadow was shocked at this, but inside, he couldn't help but say… "Yes, I do."
The Man beamed bright. He reached into His robe and handed a leather-bound book to Shadow. "Then take my Sword, and follow Me."
When he had received the book, the Ultimate Lifeform removed the leather. He smiled as he read the label on the cover.
After this, He stood and addressed the mass. "Behold, you are all witnesses of this. When the time comes, I shall welcome you and your friends with open arms. Until then, return to your homes, telling everyone about Me to the Earth, and to Mobius and Mata Nui, and to the ends of Mundus."
As He was just about to leave them, Shadow spoke up. "Jesus... can I make one humble plea? Next time you see my father, please tell him I miss him, and I love him."
He nodded pleasantly to his request. And when it was finished, He was lifted up before their very eyes, and a cloud took Him out of their sight.
Before the Freedom Fighters returned home to Earth, Rouge looked at the black and red hedgehog. "Garfield?" she asked in disbelief.
Shadow laughed silently and nervously.
Sonic grinned cheekily. "Oh, I'm gonna get a lot of mileage out of this one."
When Maria woke up, all was quiet. She looked around to find herself in a very familiar room. She was back at Chris' home in Station Square. She could also see that her room was full of flowers of all sorts. Some of these included 'Get Well Soon' cards. 'How long was I out for?' she thought.
She sat up to see a blue hedgehog sitting at her feet. He was watching a special news report.
"Experts are still at a loss as to how Robotnik built such a large army. Nor what has happened during the global blackout shortly after his defeat," said the woman on the screen. The TV then showed footage of multiple disasters where Mobians were saving lives and clearing the damage. "What everyone agrees on is that the collateral damage has been manageable through the efforts of the G.U.N., and our new allies from the planet Mobius, including but not limited to the Freedom Fighters.
"The Mobians alone, now larger in numbers than ever before, and their advanced technology have made reconstructive efforts in hours that would have taken weeks to months previously. In addition, along with the military, they have saved a larger numbers of individuals than the G.U.N. would have alone. There are still few of these creatures in service around the globe, but their efforts are felt all the same.
The screen returned to the woman. "And that concludes our broadcast day. We will return once again in the next calendar year. Until then, this is Scarlet Garcia, signing off. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year."
As the program reached its end, Maria called to the other hedgehog, saying, "Sonic?"
The hedgehog chuckled as he turned around. "Quite flattering to be mistaken for my son."
Maria's eyes widened. That wasn't Sonic's voice she heard, nor was it his face she saw. Instead, it was an older hedgehog with some brown hair and dark brown eyes. She unhesitatingly hugged him. "Daddy!" she squealed in an emotionally overwhelmed voice.
Jules wrapped his arms around her, squeezing her tight and feeling her soft fur and body heat... something he couldn't have done in a long time. Then, he lifted her chin to look her in the eyes. "I heard of all that you've done. And through it, the Great War is finally behind me. I am the proudest father alive... and your birth parents would be proud, too."
"Well, I promised you I would de-roboticize you, Dad, and I never go back on my word," she said as she wiped the tears away. "What about the others? The rest of the Earth? Is everybody okay?"
"Okay?" Her adoptive father laughed. "They're dancing in the streets!" He pointed to the balcony.
Maria went over there. From her window, she could see hundreds of individuals, humans and Mobians alike, in the middle of a large party. Just celebrating being alive. Maria smiled in pleasure, seeing people so happy after suffering for so long.
"How long was I out? What day is it today?"
"Today? Why, it's Christmas Day, of course," said a voice from the door. A familiar robot appeared. "Jack!" Maria was surprised. She ran toward and hugged him. "I-I thought you were a goner..."
"Why does everyone keep saying that?" Jack asked her. "Honestly, I'm not sure why you're all worried. The last thing I remember was this weird dream..."
"...that you turned into Metal Shadow and imprisoned us in Eggman's clutches?" asked Jules.
"Actually, I was milking a giant, headless goat. Can you think of anything so weird?" he asked. "Anyway, the rest of the gang is waiting for us downstairs. Come on."
The father, daughter and robot came downstairs to the living room of the manor. Bernadette was baking in the kitchen with Vanilla and Aleena. Sonic and Muttski were by the Christmas tree, trying to guess what was in each present under their names. Chris and Sally were on a nearby couch watching TV.
Chris turned off the TV and turned around to see the blonde hedgehog. "She's here!" Maria's friends and family came out and started clapping and cheering for their hero.
"Welcome back to the living, sis!" Sonic said and hugged her.
Maria returned the gesture."Great to see you again, bro!"
Sally came over behind the blue one. "Angel the Hedgehog, what you did was the finest act of heroism I think any of us have ever seen! On behalf of the universe, I thank you."
Maria blushed. "You're welcome..."
"Alright, gang," Jack stated happily. "Satan's down for the count, his goons are gone, and the whole dang universe is saved! Who wants to open Christmas presents?" He then grabbed the first gift he saw and read the label. Then he handed it over to his maker. "For you."
Maria received the gift and looked at the tag which said: 'To Maria, from Shadow.' She tore off the gift wrap and opened the box. "Oh my…" Maria stuck her hand in and picked up a sapphire-heart necklace. "It's beautiful!"
"Surprisingly, it's the only thing that survived Eggman's attack on New Knothole," Muttski pointed out.
Maria put it on her neck. "How does it look?"
Before they could answer, something happened. The sapphire heart around her neck started to glow. It surprised the rest of the room. They all knew the legend, and as far as they knew, this was the first time it lit up since said legend.
"What?" she asked in oblivious confusion.
"It's just…" Sonic paused for a moment. "You should go see Shadow. He's outside."
The hedgehog girl hesitantly did as she was told, and the others followed shortly behind. Once she got through the door, she looked around. Tails and Cream were out building a snowman. Rouge and Omega watched and helped out when needed. And Knuckles and the Chaotix were having a snowball fight. Then, Maria saw Shadow. He was with Antoine, Bunnie, and Rotor. By their request, he was telling them about how Maria saved his life while she was still human.
"You know, call me crazy for what I did with the Dark Egg, but I couldn't call myself her friend unless I were willing to do the same for her." Shadow smirked. "Besides, Maria still has a lot to learn. She's a lousy hedgehog." The others giggled and chortled under their breath. "And I mean a really lousy hedgehog." Then, Shadow saw Maria and smiled a pleasant smile. Maria grinned back, and Shadow stood up.
The coal hedgehog requested a little privacy, and the others went inside. The two approached one another slowly. They wrapped their arms around the other and held the other tight. The hedgehog girl kept her eyes open. She was scared because she knew he knew of her feelings now. And she worried about what he might say.
When they pulled away, the blonde one was the first to speak. "Hey listen, Shadow?" she said nervously. "You know, what I said to you back on Mata Nui, that… I–I didn't really-!"
He held up a hand, and she silenced. "Just one question," he replied. "Why didn't you tell me before?"
The blonde hedgehog looked surprised at him, and then she looked away. "I… I was scared," she confessed. "I feared being rejected, or worse - losing you as a friend. I feared I would put you in an awkward situation. I feared Grandfather or the other scientists would separate us because we were different species. I…" Small tears began to form in her eyes. "I'm sorry…"
She could suddenly feel his hand touching her cheek wiping away the tears. "Hey, don't cry. I'm not angry," he assured her. "If anything, I'm glad… that we don't have to hide anymore."
She raised her head at those words, the tears stopping for a second. "W-We?"
Shadow smiled as he continued. "Maria, you're hands down the most amazing girl that I could ever know. You've been a great friend, and I'm so happy you're in my life. But there's something I've wanted to tell you for over fifty years now…" he took a deep breath and looked into her eyes. There was no turning back now. "I… I love you, Maria Robotnik. I always have, and I was too scared to tell you for the same reasons. I'm sorry I didn't tell you sooner."
Tears stung the blonde one's eyes again and fell down her cheeks.
Shadow was afraid that he'd hurt her in some way. "Was it something I said?"
Maria whimpered and shook her head, "No, Shadow. You said everything right. You said everything I was too afraid to say."
The coal hedgehog sighed in relief. "Oh, good… I thought I did something wrong. I'm not exactly a 'Prince Charming,' if you know what I mean."
Maria smiled at those words. "Probably not… but 'Princess Robotnik' couldn't have asked for anything better. I love you, Shadow the Hedgehog. And I promise never to keep my feelings a secret again."
Shadow chuckled. "You and me both…" Then, there was the sound of something clicking. They looked up. Above them, some mistletoe dangled from a fishing line. The coal hedgehog chuckled again. "Very funny, Big."
Maria smirked and she took his hands into hers. "You know... I would hate to break such an old tradition."
Shadow looked at her in a loving way. "Then let's keep it, shall we?"
The blonde hedgehog smiled as the Ultimate Life form pulled her closer. When she could feel the warmth from his breath near her mouth, she got butterflies in her stomach, and she leaned in. They both closed their eyes, their heads tilted, and their lips finally met. Their lips moved slowly to take in the passion that they felt. She slowly lifted one foot to above her knees, while he slid his hands behind her back to pull her closer to him. And when they pulled away, they looked into the other's eyes and smiled once more, because they now knew this was meant to be.
The strength of their unity revealed their duty. The power of their love fulfilled their destiny. It was on that day that a valuable lesson was made known - the True Power of the Great Spirit is not found in the Spirit Stones, nor on the Earth, but within the hearts of those who believe. For in that single moment, when Mundus was freed from Lucifer's wrath, her two heroes received all they ever wanted… the one thing they would not give up for all the wealth and all the power in all the universe…
Meanwhile, far in the empty nothingness of space, Eggman sat in his Egg Mobile. Orbot and Cubot pushed from behind, as they tried to return to Earth.
"Faster, you idiots! Faster!" the old man demanded. "Put your backsides into it!"
"Technically, we don't have backsides, sir," replied Orbot.
"I don't care! Just push! We have to hurry! I already have my latest idea planned out, and next time, I will not fail!"
"Of course you won't, sir. Or course you won't. On a positive note, a certain someone got his voice back." Orbot gestured to his edged counterpart.
"What a great Christmas gift!I feel like my old self! All I wanna do is talk, talk, talk!" uttered Cubot. "Hey, remember when we were chasing Maria across the Earth? What's up with that girl, anyway? She sure was funny looking! Hahaha! Smelled good, though..."
As the robot continued rambling, Eggman shrugged. "Bah, humbug..."
"Oh, I wish we had some of that sushi! Oh hey, I heard they started using fish! Bummer we didn't bring any with us! Not that we could eat it, since we're robots, but we could have looked at it! I love looking at stuff! I LOVE STUFF! The final battle we saw was great! Hey, how'd you suppose they defeated Satan, anyway? LOVED IT! By the way, did we destroy Sonic this time? Duh, sorry, dumb question! We never destroy Sonic! Hey, where are we going? Ooh, look at that star! Ooh, look at that one, and that one! That one's nice! Ooh, look at that..."
The ARK Angels
There he stood… a new beacon of light for Mata Nui. A flame of hope for Earth. A newly awakened savior for all of Mundus. Coursing within him, a power not yet explained. A power that resurrected him in a matter of seconds. None knew where it came from.
Lucifer, however, was not ready to give up just yet. Using his own power, he tried to blast him and the blonde hedgehog to Oblivion once more. But Archangel Shadow's new power held strong and reflected the attack far into the distance. Now, Lucifer was filled with both fear and rage simultaneously. "How is this possible?! You have no power!"
"Deny it all you want, Lucifer. You may have the power of all the Spirit Stones in the universe, but I carry within me the True Power of the Great Spirit! Today, your reign of tyranny will end!" Shadow lunged toward the immortal monster, his sword at the ready.
For the briefest instant, the Accuser's eyes seem to widen in shock, but a sudden flare consumed him, and he was gone. "Have it your way, Jul Kendov," thundered his voice. "So be it! You've both returned from death, and I shall send you to Oblivion once and for all! Prepare to die! Say goodbye, as you witness my true wrath!"
Archangel Shadow remained still. His newly rebuilt confidence endured the death threat he'd heard innumerable times over. To him, the beast's words were nothing but the desperate bellows of a cornered animal… one that knew of the only way its struggle can end. The resurrected hedgehog turned to the gold and blue one. "I cannot defeat him… but we can."
Maria nodded in response. "...and we will." On that note, she and Shadow held their arms out, palms facing one another.
He fed a large portion of his power to her, and her body began to turn white. Armor that matched Shadow's and even an extra pair of wings appeared from her. Archangel Maria was soon ready. Then the two took toward the skies toward the greatest battle they would ever face together.
As they did so, Ekimu watched them from below. He held up his staff in respect. "Jul Kendov werid! Praise the Protectors of Man!" he shouted multiple times.
As Lucifer grew from the strength being fed to him, he prepared to defeat his long-lasting adversaries. The words of the prophecy echoed in his head. Fear began to bubble within, but so did denial. He would not surrender to the current of fate.
A glint appeared far in the distance, but it started to increase in value and size. But he new it was not growing larger, but closer. As his eyes adjusted, he saw them.
The man of black and red, alit with the flames of truth and righteousness… The woman of gold and blue, who stood as the beacon of peace and faith… Together, they stood, ready to bring salvation to fair Mundus with the strength of the Spirit... True Ultimate Power.
A loud roar came from the beast. "I am Lucifer! The realms of Mundus are MINE!"
"Alright, Maria," said Shadow. "Time for the big finish!"
"We'll win this one together!" she replied.
The final battle for Mundus had begun.
As expected, the enemy of all began his first move. Each of the seven heads stretched out toward the two minscule creatures, each one trying to consume them. But try as he might, Lucifer couldn't get close. Each time he tried. Either Shadow would gash the mouth with his sword, or Maria would shield them in an orb of defense.
In the next instant, all of the seven mouths opened, bringing forth an avalanche of Chaos energy that spun about its form in an unnatural maelstrom of destruction. A wave of Chaos was then flung toward the two mortals.
But to no avail. Their power held against the sharp impact. The two stood as though they hadn't even flinched. "If this is your universe, then it's a universe we don't want any part of." Maria commented. Using some of her own power, she summoned an orb of what seemed to be pure light. The orb blasted toward the being, pain inducing within Lucifer for once in ages.
The immortal being growled in a menacing way. "You think you're so clever? I triumphed over the both of you!" The horror's mouths opened wide, and a massive stream of flame launched itself out of his mouths.
Shadow and Maria jigged to the side just in time, and the fire roared past him… and as Lucifer's immense bulk smoothly thundered about to face his foe, the two dove towards him. But now, a wall of energy appeared, blocking their path.
Shadow's sword formed by the True Ultimate Power tore through the shield like a knife through warm butter. "Yeah, sure. Always being paranoid and overprotective for the other's well-being… You know what? I'm done with that now! Catch!" A ball of pure vigor was tossed from the sword at the large being.
If given two extra seconds, the beast would have dodged the impending attack easily. But alas, there was no time. The power struck him with great force. Lucifer was launched through the air and blasted into a floating island. If any harder, the land would have fully broken apart and crumbled.
"Aw… you dropped it," Shadow grinned smugly. "I bet it's been a long time since you felt pain, huh?"
"Don't preach to me, mortal!" hissed the failing entity. "One way or another, I shall have my way with Mundus!" The being telepathically lifted pieces from the island. As though it were the entire island, he bundled it up into one and hurled it at them.
Using their own telekinesis, they tore the large mass of rubble apart. "Listen, you ruined everything…for everyone. And now, you're going to answer for it!" The Hedgehogs soared across the sky like a comet, their eyes locked on Lucifer. They slammed their shields into him with the sound of thunder emanating from them. The monster was sent flying once more, but he recovered more easily…
Only to have another attack of light thrust upon him. The self-proclaimed king of the universe howled in agony. Such a thorn in his flesh whom has haunted every step he ever made toward universal domination. And one of them stood within a relatively safe distance from him. "I don't suppose this has shown you the error of your ways?" asked Archangel Maria. "It's not too late, you know. You can fix plenty of the mistakes you've made."
Lucifer growled in anger and pain. "The only mistake I've made in my existence…" And he quickly flew over and snatched the girl in mid-air. "…WAS NOT CRUSHING YOU SOONER!"
"Maria! Be right there!" Archangel Shadow charged toward Lucifer. The dark lord fired as many projectiles as he possibly could. But the white and gold hedgehog dodged them all with the greatest of ease. "Crush THIS!" …and he slammed his shield into Lucifer's chest. The being was sent flying. In the process, he released Maria to recover more steadily.
Then for a brief moment, the great battle turned to quiet. The greatest combination of amazement and frustration came over the larger of the three. He glared at the two Mobians before him. "Well… you two aren't as easy to kill as I thought," he commented. "I don't know how you acquired Ziilot Suleyk after you were destroyed, but I must admit… I am very impressed."
"Thank you... I guess?" Shadow replied.
"But tell me, Jul Kendov… How do you plan to kill the one who invented death?"
Both Shadow and Maria were silent. They realized just how powerful the creature they were dealing with was.
Lucifer chuckled. "Before I destroy you once and for all, I leave you with my final explanation… You see, being exiled from the realm of the Great Spirit made me inclined to corrupting all the mortal souls of this universe. Then He sacrificed himself for his so-called 'children.' So then, my best act of vengance was to collect as much power as possible. And now, I have more power than any realm… and star… any galaxy… but there is one I will never be able to surpass."
Shadow thought for a moment, then his eyes widened in shock. "You don't mean…?"
"You are correct, Shadow…" Lucifer looked to the dark sky. "The Great Spirit Himself. A source of unlimited power , created by nobody, and creator of all things… no matter how much power I attain, I will never be able to reach such a level of infinity. Therefore I see only one solution: I will destroy all that the Great Spirit has created and create a new universe in its place. Mundus shall worship me as the new Great Spirit."
Shadow and Maria stood in anger for the universe. First, the evil one robbed them of their free will, now the planned to wipe them out completely? The two hedgehogs stood side by side, ready to save their universe with their dying breath.
"You are annoyingly stubborn. Naturally, you will resist. So tell me… do you have the power to stop THIS?!" A large orb of Chaos energy appeared in each mouth. Lucifer pulled his heads and slammed the energy together hard. The force of the shockwave was so intense that it pushed the two Archangels to a great distance.
But the two were not ready to surrender. Shadow called out to Maria. "We need to combine our power! It should be enough to stop this!" And Maria agreed. The two came in over and stood side by side, hand in hand, their weapons touching. Their power combined into one, and as though all at once, it leaped from their body toward the dark matter.
It proved more powerful for a moment, but Lucifer began to add all of his power at once. He could see it seemed too much and that he was winning.
Suddenly, a bright, white light filled the void, and he was blinded. The dragon, Lucifer, screamed in defiance, but he didn't surrender.
"Lucifer, leave my children alone," commanded a loud voice.
Shadow and Maria watched in astonishment as what looked like a dove flew into view among the light. The dove came over to him and Maria, hovering over them and aligltening them. "Lucifer, do I have to repeat myself? I said: leave my children alone!"
"Mundus is mine!" Lucifer replied. "I will not be denied my destiny by these two insignificant rats!"
To the hedgehog's surprise, Lucifer began to cower.
"To Oblivion with you, Lucifer, and never return." And as He was still talking, like an explosive set off, Shadow and Maria's combined power burst forth.
It shattered the dark power, and tore straight through the dark one himself. Lucifer roared in terror. The bright light of the True Power of the Great Spirit consumed the corrupted one, and when it settled… all that remained were the two Spirit Rings.
Archangel Shadow grabbed the two rings with the hand that held the shield. "We're not rats!" he shouted into the void. As he was speaking, he crushed the Spirit Rings with his bare hand. "We're Hedgehogs!" He opened it to show nothing left but fine powder, which he blew away with a puff.
Although the battle had been finished, Lucifer's voice was heard. "YOU... CURSE YOU SHADOW... CURSE YOU MARIA!" he shouted "My body is gone, but my spirit lives on! I will return someday! I will crush all of your descendants! As long as their is sin in Mundus!" The voice ended with a dark and vile laugh.
Both Shadow and Maria knew he was right. There was another prophecy they knew of... one they once read in their days on youth. One day, Lucifer would return to Earth, and their would be an even greater battle. The only question was when? Would it be in a year? A decade? A millenium?
Did it matter?
Their duty was complete. The two hedgehogs had fulfilled everything as foretold – they were separated by force, reunited by fate, they travelled the Earth, found Ziilot Suleyk, defeated the greatest evil in the universe…
"Only one thing left to do..." said Shadow as he faced Maria. "You ready?"
"As ready as I'll ever be," she replied.
The two faced one another and joined hands. Their power was magnified beyond all compare. It started to consume everything in a bright light. Every planet, every star, every galaxy… the entire universe was being restored.
Their prophecy had been fulfilled.
"It is finished."
The End of All Things
When the dark storm ended, Maria stood and looked around. Everywhere but a small area around her feet had been scorched, and darkness fell upon the earth. It was as though a great explosion had occurred.
What struck her hardest was what happened to those around her. Almost all of the Kendov had been turned to stone. And if that wasn't enough, all mortals she saw: Sonic, Chris, her family and friends... everybody had transformed. They were all now monstrous Dark Hunters.
They looked up to see Lucifer hovering above what looked like a statue. "This body lacks its full potential, but that will change when I acquire the Spirit Stones and conquer all." he hissed.
"You really are the great evil!" Maria uttered. "Lucifer, this isn't fair!"
"FAIR?!" roared Lucifer. "I'll tell you what's unfair: I was once the most powerful, the most beautiful, the most superior being of all the Great Spirit's creation. Many saw me as the image of perfection. And then, He made you in His 'likeness.' Mortals, the flawed creation! And I was to bow down to you?!"
Maria was able to piece it all together from there.
"My gratitude for breaking Ekimu's hold on me. Since you have freed me, I shall spare you this once. But be warned: next time we encounter, I'll show no mercy." With that said, he and his corrupted minions disappeared.
Maria was puzzled. "Ekimu? Who's Ekimu?"
Just then, the elder son of Mata Nui then rose behind her, and he approached the figure Lucifer was once over. Upon a quick look, he fell to his knees, ready to weep. "Zeymah... bolog frolaaz. Forgive me, Takanuva. I have failed you, and I have failed father."
"Failed?" Maria asked. "Isn't this what you wanted, Makuta?"
"Woman of light, please spare me this... My name is not truly Makuta. It is Ekimu." Then, he explained. "The great evil came to our realm many millennia ago. His goal was to obtain the power of the Spirit Stones and take all as his own. I heard of his plan through the Great Spirit, thus I followed him to conquer him. My actions were selfless, but my hopes were foolish. I took him into my own body that day, hoping to tame him. But he took control over me, and I became the very beast I sought to destroy... I became Makuta."
"So you were possessed all this time? For hundreds of years?"
"Yes. Centuries upon centuries, I was forced to carry out what I sought to prevent. What hurts most was the curse I cast upon my father. I only wish I could see him once more, and express my remorse."
The blonde hedgehog was truly touched by Ekimu's words. She didn't need to question if he was lying or not. Speaking in a somewhat motherly tone, she places a hand on his shoulder. "Ekimu... its okay. What happened was against your own will. I think... I think your father already forgave you," she told him. "There's still time... come on. We need to stop him."
"We can't," said Ekimu. "He has gained physical form. He grows strong as he obtains Spirit Stones. He will destroy all."
Unmoved by his negativity, she showed both of the Spirit Rings. "Not if we destroy him first."
The Kendov sighed. He quickly took the ring off his finger and placed it on her's.
"Hey! What're you doing?"
"It is your destiny to destroy the Great Evil, not mine. Nis brud nii voth hi, nuz vis hiif hi. I cannot carry this burden with you... but I can take you where he has gone."
Maria nodded. "I understand."
Ekimu then began to muster up what energy he had left over from holding Lucifer in. Through it, he conjured a portal that would take them to where Lucifer was. Maria instantly jumped through.
On the other side, Maria opened her eyes and looked around. It looked like she was back on the planet of Mata Nui, but it was much different. Islands were on fire, crystal cities were brought to ruin, and darkness shrouded the land.
Suddenly a voice shrieked from from behind. She turned around fast, and she saw what looked like a blue hedgehog. But it was much different. It had one large eye instead of two, scales instead of fur, and four legs like that of a crab. Maria gasped. It was Sonic, now a Dark Hunter. "Bolog aaz, mal lir!" The heartless monster then lunged at the blonde hedgehog.
Maria quickly dodged. "Sonic! Stop!" she shouted. "It's me! Your sister!"
"I know you're in there! I don't want to fight you. You have to fight it!"
"Kren Sos Aal!"
But before she could say any more, Dark Hunter Sonic quickly grabbed her by the neck. "Faaz! Paak! Dinok!"
Maria grabbed his hand with her hands, trying to be free from the tight grasp, but to no avail. She couldn't scream for help. She had so little breath, her face almost turned purple...
Just then, a blast flew to Sonic. It stunned him and he dropped Maria to the ground. She turned to see Ekimu, who had jumped in shortly after. The two looked to see many other of her corrupted friends and family.
"I will help you past these few. Save your power for the enemy," the last Kendov instructed.
"But... but these are my friends..." Maria said, nervously.
"They are Dark Hunters, who feel no pain and show no remorse. They don't think, feel, or live freely... and they can't be restored without defeating their master."
"Alright... I understand... just please don't kill them."
"My sentiments precisely."
And so began a new battle. The hand that unwillingly created these monsters was now fighting against them. Maria shot her arrows as warning shots at the beasts. While they were clearly outnumbered, the two miraculously outmatched the monsters. At last, they reached their destination: the castle of Mata Nui.
"I'll hold them off. Go, fulfill your destiny."
"Be careful, Ekimu." The winged hedgehog charged into the castle. As she made her way to the main chamber, the doors closed behind her.
Before long, Maria had made it to the main chamber. It had changed from when she was on Mata Nui last. The walls were jagged and dark. The pedestal that held the Spirit Rings was destroyed. And on the floor was the image of a pentagon within a star.
While it didn't show on her face, the hedgehog was scared. But she had to forge on. She was the last light of hope for the universe. "I know you're here," she shouted. "Come out of the darkness."
A reply came thereafter. "I am the darkness... the darkness that consumes the souls of the fallen. Now, this is your final warning: run away, or perish."
"I am through running," she replied as she held out her bow, ready to fight. "The universe will be freed this day!"
Lucifer grinned in a corruptive way. "The woman of light, now so bold. But without the man of darkness, you are just Maria." As he was speaking, the king of Oblivion came into sight. To Maria's surprise, he had become larger after absorbing some of the planet's energy. What he said next only made her feel worse. "You failed to save your friends, your family, your world… you didn't even warn them. Perhaps for your final failure, a simple challenge against me?" he offered. "Win, and I will surrender. When you lose, I will have those Rings."
"I will not fail!"
"Come to me, chosen protector! Come, fulfill your destiny!"
Maria started charging her Chaos powers, white lightning bouncing off the golden aura. Super Maria was soon ready. Lucifer also started charging his own powers, black lightning sparking off himself. The two rushed at each other, moving quicker than anything could follow. The beginning shockwave was so strong that it shattered the palace they were within.
Punches, kicks, and powerful shots were expertly blocked by both warriors, the crashing echoing like thunder across the horizon. The battle outside had come to a stand still as every Dark Hunter watched.
"You stole their free will... their souls! They couldn't stop you! But I will!" Using the power of the Spirit Stones, Maria had lifted two of the islands telepathically. She tossed them around in an attempt to sandwich the enemy.
But Lucifer held out his hands, and the islands were demolished before they touched him. "My turn, then?" Using his power, he reached out for the power of the planet, and some of the energy from within was extracted. That energy was then thrown at the hedgehog girl. Maria quickly jumped away. "Still running, mortal?" he laughed.
With every energy blast from the Spirit Stones tossed at her, the former human jumped, ducked and dodged. All the while, she was reminded of her nightmare from a few nights before. It was coming true.
Maria then called upon the Spirit Rings herself. She began assailing Lucifer with everything she thought of. But the enemy was able to redirect the fire around him. Suddenly he spun in place, transforming into a large red tornado. "No, no, no!" Maria shouted as he was sucked in. She tried vigorously to escape, and she quickly thought of an idea. Going in the direction the tornado spun, she caused one hard flap and flew out of the tornado, far from its reach. Lucifer stopped spinning and leaped over to where she was. He tried to crush the winged hedgehog. But she dodged easily by flying further out.
As she flew back toward Lucifer, he pounded against the ground, causing rock to burst out. But Maria either dodged them or blasted her way through with her Chaos Arrows. As soon as they close enough, they both fired a large blast toward each other. As they collided, a large explosion flew across the land, sending the battle to a brief pause.
For a moment, the opposing fighters stood and stared. They were both exhausted. Lucifer then broke the silence. "It would seem we've reached an impasse... alright, Maria. I'll make you a deal." He stretched his arm out and pulled it up.
In the center of the remains of the palace, crystal broke apart, and something appeared from within. A lifeless figure was chained to a stone cross. Maria was shocked. It was Shadow's body.
"Give me the Rings, and I will let you save your equal."
The temptation was greatly strong. Maria knew she needed Shadow to fulfill the prophecy. However, she knew better than to give him the source to the greatest known power in the universe. How it came to be remained a mystery, but as she thought of what to do, it seemed that she sensed something coming their way. Something large and strong, but was it friend or foe? She sensed that it seemed to be... seeking Lucifer. She saw this to an advantage.
"Enough stalling, child," uttered Lucifer. "I demand an answer at once!"
Suddenly, a large, metal fist punched Lucifer with enough force to knock him down. There stood a large humanoid robot. Up where the head should be, there was a small human being within.
"Eggman?!" Maria yelled, completely stunned by the sudden turn of events. "But... why?"
"Because... nobody deceives Dr. Eggman unless I dismantle them first!" he yelled as he made his next move. Two large cannons like Gatling guns appeared in place of the robot's hands. But Lucifer managed to grab them and rip them off. "No! You good-for-nothing traitor!"
"I am your master, Robotnik, and I will do with you as I please!" Lucifer then grabbed the head of the robot and yanked it off. He now held Eggman in his Egg Mobile. "But you've worn out your usefulness!" He tossed his held item into the air.
"WHY ME...?!" Eggman shouted as he disappeared from sight.
As he had turned back, Lucifer saw that Maria had arrived at Shadow's body and broke the chains. "Checkmate, Lucifer." She held her hands over the lifeless body. "Chaos Restore!" Her body glowed over Shadow's.
But nothing happened.
"What...? Chaos Restore! CHAOS RESTORE!" Still nothing.
Lucifer grinned. "He's dead."
"Wh... what do you mean?"
"He isn't merely wounded, Maria. He's dead. The mortal's soul cannot be returned to the body it left. It is forbidden... by Him," he explained as he pointed up. Then he used his power to restrain her.
Maria tried to break free. But she had used up too much power trying to save Shadow.
Lucifer then approached her, and reached for each hand. "That was so foolish of you..." He slid the Spirit Rings off her fingers, then placed them on his own.
The absorbed energy coursed within him as he transformed again. Within a few tens of seconds, lo and behold, the creature became as large as a mountain. There before Maria stood a large firey red dragon with seven heads. Upon all of the heads were a total of ten horns, its claws were large enough to crush some of the large islands nearby, and its wings like a hurricane ready to strike… no monster, living or fictional, had ever been so fearsome.
Regardless of the multiple heads, a single voice came from the beast. "I will have my revenge on the Great Spirit," Lucifer said. "You shall die now, knowing your efforts were in vain. And my corruption shall spread into the souls of all mortals. And all that is good shall be gone from the universe forever!" The seven heads looked down upon the winged hedgehog. "My gratitude for bringing this about, Maria. Before I dispose of you, I shall grant you any one final request within reason."
The hedgehog girl looked down at Shadow, and then back at Lucifer. "Just one last goodbye… That's all I ask," she said, tearing up.
The master of darkness shrugged. "So be it."
She looked back down at the lifeless Shadow and kneeled down. "Shadow… I'm so sorry," she began. "You treated me the same whether I was human or hedgehog. You were always there when I needed you. But when you needed me most, I wasn't… And now… This is all my fault." She picked up his head and placed it on her lap. Then she closed her eyes, leaned down, and she gave him a small, yet passionate kiss on the lip. When she pulled away, she whispered, "You're my hero, Shadow… and I will always love you…"
Lucifer grinned evilly. "Isn't that just precious… Now, accept your doom." From his mouths, surges of dark energy accumulated, ready to strike at and finish her. Within seconds, the dark power flew from them toward her and Shadow. Maria held the lifeless black hedgehog close to her body and closed her eyes. She knew that only a miracle could save her now…
…and that was exactly what she got.
"WHAT?!" Lucifer shouted in surprise.
The hedgehog girl looked up. Around the two was some form of shield, and it had reflected the dark power. When the Chaos energy was depleted from around them, the shield retracted into Shadow and he began to glow a bright light. He then started to float into the air by the mysterious force.
Both Maria and Lucifer watched in wonder. Neither knew what was going on. Once Shadow's lifeless body was raised high enough into the air, a great energy filled the body, and out of it came a bright, blinding light.
When the light settled, Lucifer looked back at the source. "Impossible…"
What the two of them were staring at was a Mobian hedgehog that looked similar to the ebony and crimson one. Its fur was white as snow with gold markings instead of red. Even its eyes were a bright gold. Out from its back came not two, but four wings. It wore gold-lined armor with a matching shield on its right arm and a sword in its left hand. It looked at blonde one and smiled. "Thank you, Maria…"
The creature that she was staring at was indeed her beloved Shadow the Hedgehog, now Archangel Shadow!
A Hero's Fall, A Devil's Rise
The Roboticizer began to surge into Maria's body. Super Shadow and the others tried to break her out before it was too late, but it was no use. Even Chaos Spear was not strong enough to penetrate the machine. Eggman laughed maniacally. It was to be his greatest triumph against their morale.
But then the machine started smoking and sparking. This surprised the evil scientist. "What's going on?!" He shouted. "This shouldn't be happening!"
"I don't know," Orbot told him. "Something inside of her is overloading the machine!"
"No! Turn it off! Turn it off! Quick!"
But Eggman was too late. The machine smoked and sparked more and more. Soon, it was too much. The Roboticizer blew itself apart, sending pieces flying all over the room. Maria fell to the floor. The Roboticizer didn't change her at all, but she was in pain.
Suddenly, they felt as though they were falling. They looked out the window to see clouds flying up. Cubot looked at the computer. "We blew our main power source! We're gonna crash!"
"What?!" As soon as Eggman said that, a large cable fell on top of him.
Everyone in the room, even the Dark Hunters, ran off for the door. Within seconds, it was just Eggman, Makuta, Shadow, and Maria, who laid on the ground in agony. Shadow ran to pick her up then he glared at the evil doctor. "I'm gonna make sure she's alright. You have that much of a head start." He turned to Makuta. "We'll face each other again soon… but next time, on my terms." With that, the coal hedgehog used Chaos Control and vanished.
Eggman grinned. "Excellent work, Makuta," he said as the one addressed lifted his fallen cable. "The Dark Egg will fall into place, right?"
"Correct," the creature replied. "We shall crash land on the G.U.N. headquarters in moments. If nothing alters the ship's current path, it shall destroy all who oppose us." Then he laughed. "At long last, my plan is now complete."
"'Your' plan?" Eggman asked with a glare. "You've been a most resounding commander, Makuta. But it was my genius that made this possible. My genius found you, my genius freed you, and my genius empowered you. If not for my genius, you'd be collecting dust in a cave." He crossed his arms and stood inches away. "So tell me… whose plan is this?"
The being grabbed Eggman in a death grip. With his free hand, he clawed his head, and an electrical charge surged into him. Robotnik shrieked in pain and fear. Images suddenly filled his self-conscious.
"See and understand," Makuta began. "I was banished from the realm of the Great Spirit to Oblivion in the dawn of time. For such, I plotted against the Great Spirit, and I corrupted the souls of mortals, beginning with Earth's earliest ancestors. But then, nearly two thousand years ago, He took on flesh and sacrificed Himself to my mercy. I thought victory was mine until He returned with the many souls I had taken.
"Since then, I devised a new plan with which I would use the Spirit Stones to grow strong. I plunged the Kendov into war and nearly hailed victorious, when I heard the prophecy of Shadow and Maria... the Jul Kendov. They were destined to destroy me, so my plan was to do so to them. The Kendov discovered my ambitions and deprived me of my full strength. They banished me to the farthest reaches of space.
"Miraculously, I found my way to Earth. For fifty years, I bided my time, plotting the end of my revenge… until you discovered me and provided the innovation I lacked." He released the old man and let go of his head. "Now the Jul Kendov shall be destroyed. Now the prophecy shall be undone. Now Mundus shall be mine to control."
"W-We were going to rule the world...!" Eggman nearly stuttered.
"I am the King of Oblivion. I will be the new Great Spirit. With the Spirit Stones, I will reshape the universe in my own image! And this world... I shall destroy with the Professor's Ultimate Weapon."
"Wh-What weapon?" Then Eggman remembered who the Professor was and froze. "Grandpa's Eclipse Cannon..."
Makuta laughed. "I possess one of the Spirit Rings. Though it, I have reclaimed great strength." He rose into the air and dark power surged from him. "Your genius is no longer needed."
"GET AWAY FROM ME!" Eggman had never run so fast in his life, nor was he so frightened. 'It's not over! I can fix this! Must get to my old lair! Get to my secret weapon! Get off this rock! I can fix this! I CAN FIX THIS!'
Meanwhile, Maria was in recovery at Thorndyke Manor. She was in little pain if any. Gali and Uncle Chuck checked her all over for any abnormalities. Shadow and the others were outside her room, relieved that it was over. Or so they thought...
What surprised everyone was to see that Shadow was still maintaining his super form. Though he had no Emeralds, his fur was glowing and he felt exceedingly strong. He couldn't seem to expel the power.
Soon, the old hedgehog came out. "How is she, Unc?" asked Sonic.
"Her body seems to be intact," Charles replied. "It still amazes me that she took such an intense electrical charge without it killing her."
"What I don't understand is... how was she not roboticized?" Tails asked.
"Simple," replied Sonic. "She's my clone. I'm immune to the Roboticizer." The others agreed to that reality, having seen it themselves.
"Can we see her?" asked Shadow.
"Wait for it..." No sooner did he say that did Maria come in behind him.
Shadow let out a sigh of relief, feeling as though he wouldn't see her again before. "How're you feeling?" he asked.
"Never felt better. I never have to work for that Egg-jerk again, and you got out safely," replied Maria cheerfully. But then she became rather curious. "Um... How long have you been in your super form."
"Since the Dark Egg. Strange though, I don't have any Emeralds."
"I bet you didn't need them," said a certain red echidna. Being the guardian of the Master Emerald, he knew more about Chaos energy than most others. "Like Eggman said, you can 'produce your own Chaos energy,' right?"
"Something like that..."
"To quote from one of my ancestors, 'Chaos is power, enriched by the heart.' When you were talking about your 'father' back there, you must have been, and still are, exerting enough Chaos energy to defeat Eclipse. Your love for Gerald as your dad made you go super!"
This caused Shadow to think. He remembered that the more he thought of him, the stronger he became. If Knuckles was right, then maybe... But as he thought, they heard the city's emergency siren. Followed by several screams and running. As they left the building, they noticed an overcast. But there was no cloud in the sky...
It was the Dark Egg. They had blown the primary engine their heads, and it was heading straight for them. The Freedom Fighters hurried to get out with as many individuals as possible.
But Makuta appeared on the screen. "Go ahead and run, mortals," he said. "If this mighty fortress does not destroy you, the 'Eclipse Cannon' will!" As though on cue, the atmosphere cleared only for a second, showing the weapon in question charging to fire.
The Freedom Fighters and the Kendov were horrified. Takanuva especially. "Even with our combined strength, we could not stop that..."
"Game over, man!" Manic panicked. "We're doomed!"
Right there and right then, the thought of his promises came through, and Shadow knew what needed to be done. "Takanuva... Sonic... everyone, evacuate the the city. Save as many as you can." The others agreed and left to do as instructed.
"What about you, Shadow?" asked Maria as they left.
"I'm going up there."
"What?" Maria was shocked.
"Without my inhibitor rings, I should have enough power to do what must be done."
He was just about to remove his stabilizer bracelets, when Maria stopped him. "Shadow, you can't. That's suicide."
Shadow turned to face her. "Then I can finally repay an old debt."
"There- there has to be another way! I'll think of something...!"
"There's no time. You have to trust me."
"Please... I lost everything else from my old life. I can't lose you, too!"
"You wont," he assured her. "Everything will be alright... I promise. Just let me go..."
Maria was silent. Tears started to emerge from her eyes. Before she allowed him to carry out his plan, she wrapped her arms around him to hold him one last time. "Never alone... always together..."
Shadow returned the gesture. "Maria and Shadow... best friends forever." After a slow release, Shadow took off his inhibitor rings, and he took to the sky at full speed. He dared not look back, or else he feared he would change his mind before it was too late.
His final mad dash had begun. Racing against time to find the strongest source of power he knew of. Nearly dying to protect his world… his friends… his family.
How many times had he done this? Risked his life to protect the planet Earth? Nearly died to keep his promise to Maria? Perhaps too many times too many. But if he could do so once more… it will have all been worthwhile.
As he approached, he closed his eyes. "Great Spirit," he prayed. "I have heard You achieve many glorious things... You protected me and Maria through thick and thin... I now know without doubt that you are real. I don't care what happens to me after today. All I ask is that everyone else is safe... from him."
The Ultimate Lifeform was quick to reach the Dark Egg. He sank his fingers into the metal and closed his eyes. An image of a certain winged hedgehog appeared... along with a small tear in his eye. "Sayonara, Angel the Hedgehog..." He then began to draw some Chaos energy from around him. "CHAOS CONTROL!"
From within Station Square, the Freedom Fighters, Kendov, and G.U.N. witnessed a bright light from the Dark Egg. It grew brighter and brighter and suddenly, the light vanished, and so did the Dark Egg. And as the charging Eclipse Cannon aimed itself at the Earth…
…the Dark Egg reappeared in the way.
A great bottle-green lance erupted from the tip of the massive gun, and slammed directly into the top of the Dark Egg. The explosion could be seen by millions. Almost all at once, the Dark Hunters collapsed one by one along with the enemy ships. The battle had ended. Soldiers and Mobians cheered in joy for their success.
Sonic turned on his communicator. "Congratulations, Shadow! You have destroyed the Dark Egg, ended an all-out war, and bettered the future for all! What are you gonna do now?" All he could hear from the other side was static. "Shadow, come in. Do you copy?" Still no response.
All were silent, all were scared for Shadow. The G.U.N. Commander was the first to speak thereafter. "I want a salvage team out there now!"
Maria was beyond frightened. She feared that his beloved was…
"Shadow! Shadow! Where are you?!" Several voices sound.
In the remains of the station, several individuals searched high and low. They almost tore the remains apart. But there was no sign of the black and red hedgehog.
From the other side of the horizon, Sonic sped by in a cloud of ashes.
"Any luck?" Maria asked worried as the cloud trail stops in front of her.
The blue blur shook his head. "Nada…"
They look back at a lake and saw Tails flying their way along with Knuckles. "He had to have escaped. Why else can't we find him?" The two tailed fox asked.
"Chao! Chao!" Behind them, Cheese appeared. He seemed rather excited. The little creature pointed to the distance. There, in the direction he was pointing, was Makuta's body. Underneath, they could see another body.
Maria gasped as she looked in fear. "No..." She ran over to the body and the others followed. Using their combined muscle, they lifted the heavy metal to get a better look at the body.
Sure enough, it was… "Shadow! Shadow! Speak to me!" Maria pleaded with tears in her eyes. She tried to awake him by shaking him. All the while, the Freedom Fighters, G.U.N. and many others gathered, they looked down at the body, and some were ready to embrace the worst.
"Please, Shadow! I'm begging you! Open your eyes! Say something! Please!" She turned him over at that moment, and the arm over his chest fell to the ground. A sharp pain fell on Maria's heart. She knew what this meant. "N-No..."
The reality was heavy, crushing many, especially Maria, beneath its weight. Those many joined her in her mourning, while others saluted in respect to this heroic champion. The war had ended... but he who ended it had fallen to death. How great a price, victory? Can the girl who cared for him the most ever accept this fate? This overwhelming sadness? She is uncertain. But she had made a decision thereafter.
After many fallen tears, she looked at Makuta's hand. She focused on the ring upon it and its match on her own.
"Maria?" Sonic asked curiously.
"These rings," she began, "have caused far too much chaos and separation... I'm going to take these rings where nobody will ever find them again."
She reached down to pull the ring from Makuta's finger. But as the two rings touched, a sharp pain struck her like lightning. She shrieked in agony, and Makuta's body roared loudly. The dark one's exterior then began to change. His pale skin grew the color of flesh, his grey hair became a golden yellow, and his black wings were now white. All the while, a shadowy substance began to form nearby like filth after one has bee cleansed.
Maria fell back, landing in the form of a sit. She looked up as the shadow rose into the air and circle rapidly. Within the pain she felt previously, she saw that within Makuta was something far worse. "Oh, no... oh, no, no, no, no, NO!"
"What... what in the name of the Great Spirit is that?!" asked one of the Kendov.
"The real great evil..." the winged hedgehog began. "He who was exiled from the realm of the Great Spirit... he who corrupts mortals through shame and accusation... he who longs to separate us from the Great Spirit forever..."
As she spoke, the shadow began to take form, and the sound of laughter could be heard. At first glance, it appeared to be human, but then it grew to be a hideous beast. Its flesh was blood red, its claws sharper than any sword, and its feet like the hooves of a mountain goat. It wore an ebony black breastplate, gauntlets, and leg armor. It had two wings and a tail like that of a dragon. It also had two large horns on its head, with hair like fire.
"That is the king of Oblivion... Lucifer," Maria concluded.
Lucifer breathed through his nostrils, and exhaled with pleasure. "It's good to be back. It's been far too long since I had a body all my own."
Tahu glared at the figure. "Lucifer! I heard many tales of you! You were supposed to protect the mortal worlds before us!"
"I shall," he replied. "And when you awake, you will honor me as your great leader."
Takanuva stared angrily. "Deception and self-interest will never be virtues we honor."
Lucifer laughed. "How very bold…" he stretched his hands out into the air. "Now, I will finally have my revenge on the Great Spirit!"
As he regained his strength once more, he summoned the seven Chaos Emeralds of the Earth. He quickly absorbed the power from to amplify his own strength. After all seven Emeralds were drained, his mere presence to the world was enough to distort reality itself. A dark shadow started to consume everything around it. Every ocean, every bird, every small insect, and nothing in the universe could escape it. Mundus was being destroyed in the presence of Lucifer.
The Jul Kendov's time… was up.
And so began the end of all things.