Preview: Season 0, Episode 19

The final battle between Super Shadow and Black Night, the Super form of Blacklight, has begun. But where is it happening?

???

An intense, continuous sound can be heard, like that of a raging river. Slowly, Super Shadow opens his eyes. He is surrounded on all sides by two kinds of energy, one of gold and white, the other of purple and black, which flow around him. The two are unevenly mixed, in small shreds in some places, and large patches in others. In a somewhat erratic fashion, the two energies are constantly morphing and flowing, one type of energy almost constantly flowing into and overtaking the other, only to be itself overtaken. “What…what is this place…?” His voice echoes off into the distance.

“An excellent question.” Another loud cough announces the presence of Black Night.

Shadow groans. “Why can’t we both have just died?”

Black Night emerges from the swirl of energy. As he does, the area around him grows intensely more erratic, with light and darkness shifting and stabbing into each other so quickly that it almost can’t be tracked by the eye. “But Shadow! If I were dead, then the world would have to miss out on my unique and exciting brand of comedy!” Shadow glares at him. “What? I wasn’t joking. Or was I? Hm.”

Shadow sighs. “What do you know about this place?”

“Oh, right, that. Tell me, Shadow, when you use Chaos Control, what do you see?”

“See?” Black Night nods. “I see the place that I was, and then the place that I end up.”

“I’m afraid that’s incorrect. Go ahead. Think about it. Think about that one, momentary instant,” he snaps his fingers, “between starting point and destination.”

Shadow scrunches his face as he thinks hard. “There isn’t any…or…is there?” He starts to look around, perhaps gaining some vague recognition of the strange realm.

“You got it. Welcome to the Flow of Chaos. We are currently connected to all of space, and all of time.”

“And…this energy around us?”

Black Night shrugs. “Heck if I know. So…what now?”

“I’d say nothing’s changed.” Shadow takes a fighting stance in the air.

“Yes, yes, you’re probably right. But do you really want to fight in here? Doesn’t it seem almost…blasphemous?” Shadow says nothing. “Fine, fine, take the first move. I’m ready.”

Shadow takes the opportunity. “Chaos Frost!” He throws his hand forward. But nothing happens.

“Uh…hate to break this to you, but there isn’t any ice in here.”

“Chaos Tempest!”

“Or air, for that matter. Here, let me try. Chaos Void!” Rather than emerging from himself, the dark energy from the realm around them is thrown from its place, towards Shadow in a massive, unavoidable onrush.

Preview: Season 0, Episode 18

 

“I’m sorry, but that dripping is really starting to bother me.” Just as Blacklight says, Shadow is still slowly dripping wet.

Shadow is caught off-guard by the strange outburst. “Uh–”

“No, please, allow me to dry you off.” He suddenly pulls out the cyan Emerald and shouts, “Chaos Tempest!” He throws forward an upraised hand, and a massive gust of wind instantly begins to blow from behind him. The wind mildly ruffles his spikes, but blows into Shadow so hard that he is thrown into the wall behind him.

In the confusion, Blacklight snaps his fingers, and warps to a spot behind Gerald and Maria. They only have a moment to react before he seizes her with one arm, and snaps them back to his original position.

Disoriented, Shadow gets back up to see Blacklight holding Maria captive, covering her mouth with one hand to muffle her screams, and openly displaying the red Emerald in the other. The look on Shadow’s face quickly moves from one of utter fear, to one of uncontrollable anger. He moves as if to attack, but Blacklight stops him immediately.

“Nah, ah, ah. One wrong move, and Barbie’s perfect hair gets burned off of her scalp.”

Shadow hangs his head in defeat. “Alright. I’ll do whatever you say. Just tell me what you want.”

“My demands are simple. One portal.” He waves around the Emerald to convey his meaning. “And one 60 second head-start.”

“So that’s it? You’re doing this just to keep up your game?”

Blacklight shrugs. “Maybe. I could just end up waiting for you on the other side. Haven’t really decided yet.” Maria looks at Shadow desperately while he speaks. “So, are my terms agreeable?”

Silently, Shadow gives a slow nod, and takes out the yellow Emerald.

“Very good, very good.” He holds his own Emerald forward. “Let’s get started, shall we? Chaos…”

Shadow walks just close enough to put the two Emeralds in close proximity to each other. He mutters almost silently, “Chaos…”

They both finish in entirely different inflections, “Control.” As usual, a space-time rift forms between them.

Blacklight points back to Shadow one last time. “Remember, I’d better not see you out there for 60 seconds. Perhaps a stopwatch would be helpful? Not that I have one.” A lack of response from Shadow seems to irritate him slightly. “Fine, fine, I’ll go.” He gives a little wave. “Toodle-oo.” He gets a firm grip on Maria, and pulls them both into the rift.

Review: Season 0, Episode 17

Alright, lots to talk about this time around. The concept of having Shadow face off against Chaos was one of the earliest ideas I had for this whole arc. The thought has always stood out to me that the events of Sonic Adventure are the only really interesting thing to ever happen to Sonic that Shadow had no chance of being involved with. In the past I had considered making some kind of joke off that, having Shadow not believe that those events actually happened because nothing interesting can happen if he doesn’t know about it. But I decided that this episode was far more important than some vague and not-very-funny joke. The difficulty came with Sunlight (though I suppose I should officially be calling him Blacklight now). In Crisis of Chaos, Blacklight, when shown Mechaos 7.0, the Artificial Perfect Chaos, specifically mentioned having no knowledge or memory of it. So throughout this episode, I had to carefully avoid having him directly interact with either the real one or an active artificial one. As an accidental result, I kind of ended up having Chaos become a real enemy of Shadow. But I certainly have no problem with having that much more backstory I can work with later, so expect Shadow to face off against Chaos once more in the far-distant future. Anyways, I had planned on Artificial Chaos playing a far more important role in this episode than what ended up happening, seeing as its the one Shadow had actually encountered before, and had reason to fear. But Blacklight’s story took precedence, and I found that between him and the real Chaos, anything I did would have seemed dull and boring, as I felt the two actual paragraphs involving them were. Speaking of the real Chaos, my original idea involved Shadow being there to witness Perfect Chaos destroying the Echidna village, and never actually fighting it directly. But between Blacklight’s need to never encounter it, and his need to get another Chaos Emerald on this trip, using Chaos 6 worked out much better. The idea about Shadow’s strife in attempting to use Chaos Frost came fairly-last minute, when I was doing some research into the specifics of how the original Chaos 6 fight worked. I originally planned for Shadow to beat Chaos like normal, but decided that a failure would not only lead to a more emotional climax between Tikal and Chaos, but also make the problem with Artificial Chaos feel a little more personal (though, as I said, that part didn’t work out as planned). That’s in addition to the concerns he now has over his own abilities as compared to Blacklight’s.

Now, on to Tikal. The comparison between her and Maria has existed in my mind…ever since I first played Sonic Adventure, I guess. Having Shadow meet her was as much an inspiration for this episode as having having him face Chaos was. The connection between her dilemma and Shadow’s current one is something that I did have to force a little bit, but I thought it worked out quite well for my purposes. Speaking of said dilemma, Shadow’s conflict over Maria’s promise is the very reason why, last episode, I decided to send Shadow to the future, instead of to the ARK as was the original plan. I can’t say everything, since this has yet to be resolved until next episode, but I knew it would make for a generally better story to have Shadow questioning his ties to humanity for much longer. And just to make it clear before I move on to the next topic, Shadow is actively avoiding interacting with Maria, despite this being his first time actually seeing her since her death. One would certainly expect the opposite reaction, but Shadow is certainly going through a lot right now.

Now, there’s a lot going on behind-the-scenes with Blacklight as well. I mentioned last episode having the intention of showing that there is more to his madness than the simple factors that one might expect. Unmentioned in that episode was his quoting of classical poetry. Specifically, Robert Frost’s “Fire and Ice” (no I’m not talking about Sonic Boom). Now, his thought process as he said those things is up to the interpretation of the reader. Perhaps Lt. Alfred did give Sunlight a thorough instruction in the literary arts, and he is merely playing off of what he knows. Alternatively, such works of literature might not even exist in this world, and Blacklight simply has the soul of a poet. Either way, it really adds an intellectual level to his already complicated personality. I continued in my attempts to express this intellect throughout this episode, first with his using the French phrase, “Au contraire, mon ami.” The translation would be “On the contrary, my friend.” Next to “Bon appetit” and “Bonjour,” they are probably the most well-known French words in the English language, but that doesn’t prevent it from contributing to his air of intelligence, by knowing at least some slight amount about a foreign language, and one of the languages of romance at that. Additionally, there were two more direct references. The first was when he held the head module of Artificial Chaos, a reference to William Shakespeare’s “Hamlet,” known as one of the most famous tales of a tragic hero of all time. In particular it was the famous “skull scene” being emulated, in which Prince Hamlet speaks to the skull of an old friend. The head module was the stand-in for the skull. Now, contrary to what many believe, Hamlet never says “To be or not to be” during the skull scene, but I thought that I would add that quote just to make sure that readers understood what I was trying to get across. And besides, it fit well with the theme of contemplation that I was going for. Unlike the previous literary reference, this one was completely unplanned until the moment I realized how much the head module would resemble a skull, which happened while I was describing his holding it. The other reference, also unplanned, was to Edgar Allen Poe’s “The Raven,” spoken by Blacklight in marveling over his new name. Unlike Hamlet, which I have read quite recently (in fact, I performed as King Claudius), I haven’t seen a word out of The Raven in almost 5 years. But I still remember the language very well, and as I was having Blacklight appreciate his own name, I recalled the lines, “But the Raven…spoke only that one word, as if his soul, in that one word, he did outpour.” I couldn’t not use it after I realized how well it fit. Now, Blacklight not only seems more intellectual in his insanity, but has also been likened to a tragic hero, and to a poet known for extremely dark and depressing writing. Now, on to one last thing.

Shadow and Blacklight’s little “war of Chaos Control” meant a lot more to me than just a cool action sequence. I was unusually particular about the details. That’s because this exact sequence has been hanging on my wall for longer than the Chaos Project has even existed as an idea. I had to be in 5th or 6th grade when I was at my first peak in Sonic obsession, surpassed only now, and only because of this very story. Anyways, I’ve mentioned before on this website how I (and my older brother, he deserves credit too) as a child loved to create my (our) own Sonic stories. They were absolutely nothing cohesive or deep, and most of those ideas have been all but forgotten. But there is one idea which has stood the test of time. It was my very first attempt at an Original Character, something that I didn’t even know was a thing back then. It was made in conjunction with my still-close friend, who contributed a lot of stories, and also indulged me in allowing me to share my own. Anyways, this character was relatively simple, a hedgehog with ice powers who would serve as a rival to Shadow. He was dubbed Frostbite. Sound familiar? That was one of the names that Blacklight has been contemplating throughout this arc. Later, as Frostbite’s backstory was solidified as not a replica of the Ultimate Life Form, but a prototype to it (between the Biolizard and Shadow), he was renamed to Blackice (which I would’ve actually used last episode instead of Frostbite, but I didn’t like the way it looked spelled out, and still don’t like). Blackice persisted for some time, until I described him to my older brother, who loved the idea so much that he embraced it as his own. Of course, he wouldn’t accept it exactly as-is. He didn’t like that he was limited to only ice powers. He asked, “Why not all of the elements?” Of course, a character with generic elemental powers couldn’t have the word “ice” (or “frost”) in his name, and so he was renamed to Nova (another name that may sound familiar), almost entirely for the sake of the “Super Nova” pun. All of this renaming is the source of inspiration for Blacklight’s entire name crisis, which is not only a driving force behind his character development in this arc, but was planned for from the very beginning, as you can see by looking at some of Blacklight’s comments in Crisis of Chaos. Anyways, to continue the story, Nova became a central feature in all of my brother’s best stories, which, at the time, he was better at creating than I was. Perhaps as some sort of attempt to make sure I still felt like the character was mine, I started to draw him using his various powers (I was a 5th grader at the time, and not exactly the best artist even by those standards. I couldn’t even figure out what Shadow’s spikes were supposed to look like from the side), including one picture of him threatening Eggman with icicle spears, a scene I specifically recreated as his introduction in Crisis of Chaos. But my favorite of all the pictures I ever drew, which I still have hanging on my wall to this day, shows him facing off against Shadow in a war of Chaos Control. The picture, as shown below if you’re interested, shows almost exactly the sequence I described in this episode, with the characters appearing in many places at once, neither with a clear advantage.

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I know, embarrassing, right? Oh, the things I do for you.

To finish the story, when I had the dream that inspired the Chaos Project 3 or 4 years later, Nova was not involved, as it was meant to be its own, single, inclusive story. But as I began to imagine the context of that story (what became Crisis of Chaos), I couldn’t resist the urge to include my old characters. But, as I wanted it to be my own story unrelated to my brother’s, I decided that Nova had to be completely re-imagined. I was very hesitant to give him any kind of special powers at all beyond Shadow’s, but I came to the conclusion that, if I could come up with a good justification for having those powers, I would keep them. It was another week or two before I decided to link each element to an Emerald, and that was good enough for me. I don’t know if I can really describe an exact inspiration for the change in backstory from Shadow’s prequel to Shadow’s sequel, but I felt that it would make for a better story, especially given the inclusion of Professor Gerald’s son and Maria’s father, an idea that I didn’t want to ignore after I had first thought of it. I chose the new name of Blacklight, partly as a nod towards the original Blackice name, but also to emphasize the balance/contrast of opposites theme which his story centers around. Lastly was the more specific changes made to his personality. Originally, Blackice was intended to have the mild, cool and polite villain personality which I later recycled for King (which, as you may recall, didn’t have the most pleasing results until much later on), with just a hint of passive-aggressive dislike towards Shadow. Once again, I can’t really say for certain what inspired this change, but I think it may have had something to do with Yu-Gi-Oh Zexal, as I was actively watching that series at around that time, and, in hindsight, Blacklight seems very closely related to the character of Ray/Vector (yes, I realize that those are both names of Sonic characters, but I promise it’s from Yu-Gi-Oh). And…I suppose that concludes the story. Once all of those ideas were set, I started writing, and the rest is history.

-And until next time, remember that it’s a good idea to turn back once in a while.

Review: Season 0, Episode 15

So this episode was pretty fun to write, although I would have liked it to feel not quite so rushed. But a big majority of this episode was actually a bit of a last-minute decision, first planned while I was in the middle of last episode, and only finalized as I started writing this one. Originally, the idea was to have Shadow immediately encounter parallel-Sonic, and have them use Chaos Control right then and there to get Shadow where he needs to go. But I have been thinking for a while about a potential future episode which would heavily call back to this one, so I thought I should give the whole alternate timeline sequence a little more emphasis, which turned into almost an entire episode. I’m a little worried about describing my exact thought process in planning this new emphasis, for risk of spoiling said potential episode. But I can say that the thought of teaming Sonic up with Eggman out of desperation was an idea which really intrigued me the moment I thought of it. But I didn’t think that was worth it until I came up with the idea to make them not just grudged allies, but true friends. And I knew that the best way to drive that concept home while also making the whole alternate timeline sequence feel more relevant was to have Eggman die. The hard part was making it feel properly emotional. I didn’t want any readers to think “Good riddance.” I think I did well enough on that end. I felt that emotional sequence was so important to get right because of the direction the series will be going after Crisis of Chaos, portraying Eggman as a truly evil villain. I wanted to show that he does have some potential for humanity within him, and that circumstances make all the difference.

On a related note, the episode title may have stood out to you a bit. For anyone who doesn’t remember, Project: Needlemouse was the early codename for Sonic the Hedgehog 4, which in turn was a reference to Sonic’s own beta name, Mr. Needlemouse. I don’t really recall what order all of my different ideas came in, but the decision that I had recently come to to have all of the different Season 0 arcs be identifiable and separable by overarching theme in episode titles (time puns>Batman movie puns>”Project:” titles) led to my need in this case to come up with a good “Project:” title for this episode. At first it was just going to be the title of next episode, before I lengthened the whole alternate timeline part. After that I was considering “Project: Chaos” in reference to the plan to steal a Chaos Emerald, but I decided I wanted to save that one for potential later use. I also considered “Project: Emerald,” but that doesn’t have the same ring to it. At some point when I was thinking both about a way to make Sonic and Eggman seem closer, and thinking through other potential titles, the thought of using nicknames struck me, and I couldn’t ignore the thought of having Sonic be nicknamed Needlemouse. That, or the memory of Sonic 4 AKA Project: Needlemouse struck me, and my thoughts went in the other direction. Either way, the result was the current and final episode title.

As for Sunlight, I think his personality came across a little bit more easily and naturally this time, though I have been planning that scene for considerably longer. I really enjoyed conveying the idea that his insane ramblings did make perfect sense to him. The difficult part was trying to set him up to have such strong loathing for Shadow in the future, while still making him seem childish and naive. I thought that simply giving him a weird obsession with examining Shadow would be enough to start with. And…I guess that’s all for now.

-Until next time, remember to live and learn every day!

Preview: Season 0, Episode 11

Sonic and Black Cloak have been lost down a chasm, barely escaping the last fight with their lives. Now they must escape together. Maybe the Black Cloak is more open to teamwork than he first let on…

(A warning: this preview, and this episode as a whole, contains references to violence and some “animated” blood which may not be suitable for young children. I have still determined that the rating for this story should remain at K+, but just barely. Reader discretion is advised.)

Slowly, Sonic returns to consciousness. Though he opens his eyes, he still sees only blackness. “Wha…what happened?”

The voice of Black Cloak speaks from nearby, “You shoved us into the chasm, remember? You’re lucky I was able to break your fall, or you could’ve been injured a lot worse.”

“You don’t sound very grateful…considering I just saved your life.” He gets to his feet.

“I’ve been waiting on that encounter for a while now. It was supposed to be my way straight to King. Forgive me if I’m bothered at my own failure.”

Still a bit dazed, Sonic looks straight up. A small amount of dim moonlight filters down from high above. Some slight amount of visibility returns as Sonic’s eyes adjust to the darkness. Suddenly, he becomes aware of the mildly searing pain in his arm. He moves his hand up to cover the spot, and it comes away sticky with blood.

“The bullet grazed your arm. The one meant for me. You should get that wrapped up.”

Something dawns on Sonic. “You…you stayed here. Why didn’t you just leave?”

“Some hero I’d be if I left an injured man trapped at the bottom of a hole.”

“But I thought you weren’t a hero. You said that yourself.”

“Yeah, I– uh, I mean– you– ugh, nevermind! Forget I said anything…”

“What’s the matter? Did I hit a nerve? I was beginning to wonder if you even had any of those.”

“Come on. We need to get out of here.”

Sonic agrees to drop the last subject. “And how do you propose we do that?”

“You can use Chaos Control. Just warp us back up. You do have a Chaos Emerald, don’t you?”

Sonic pulls out his blue Chaos Emerald. Its soft light helps to illuminate the pit. “I…I could. But I shouldn’t.”

“Shouldn’t?”

“Chaos Control…I’ve only successfully used it a few times in my life. And every one of those times, it was absolutely necessary. Do you have any idea…how dangerous it is?”

“Dangerous? I think you’re talking about the wrong Chaos power. I’d say you have it lucky.”

“I had never really thought about it before…before recently. Warping instantly to any location you can think of…one lapse in concentration, and you end up inside of a wall or something. I’m not going to take that risk, not unless I have to. And certainly not if I’m putting someone else at risk.”

Black Cloak thinks on that for a moment. “I…guess I never thought about it that way. Well, luckily for you, I do know another way out of here. But it will have dangers of its own.”

Sonic shrugs, but winces from the pain in his arm. Through gritted teeth, he still lets out a sarcastic, “Lead the way.” The two walk off, the Chaos Emerald lighting their way.