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Marionette 7/Shadow 4

"As If Things Couldn't Get Any Worse..."

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An interrogation room...
Three days after the battle...

Three men paced around Capt. Maria Chavez as she sweated underneath the interrogation lights. One was the older woman's superior, her brother, Chief Antonio Chavez. He kept looking at her and shaking his head, trying to make sense of things. The pale-skinned man in the trenchcoat was an agent of the FBI who gave his name as Walker. The third was an Asian man from the CIA in a black business suit that kept his eyes hidden behind dark sunglasses, and had given his name as James. Maria couldn't see the man's eyes, but he could tell that he was glaring at her.

Finally, James stood up and asked the other two to leave. Reluctantly, they complied, seeing that they wouldn't get much out of her. James waited until they shut the door and then turned to Maria, growling under his breath. Maria glared at him.

"I told you the same thing I told them: I let Marionette and those others go because we were unequipped to handle them."

James just frowned at her. "Your entire department reported you for letting them go. Normally, at least from what our files say on you, you are very adamnt about procedure. And yet you let five more-than-human individuals go scott-free. Are you sure there isn't another reason?"

"Yes," Maria said, folding her arms and glaring at him.

"Are ABSOLUTELY sure there's no other reason? Such as your taking bribes from Mad Gear while you worked in Metro City?"

Maria froze. "How could you know about that?"

James smiled and pulled out a cigar and lighter. "The same way Alia knew about it. She checked up on you before coming here," James said, biting off the tip of the cigar and lighting it. He puffed on it for a moment, and blew smoke.

"Do you really know who she is?" James asked.

"She helped stop those Germans at the airport. She volunteered to give us whatever assistance she needed."

"I bet she also said that she was here for a tournament. Right?"

Maria blinked, then said, "There weren't any listed, so I just assumed it was an underground tournament." Maria stood up, frustrated by all of this. "How do you..."

"SIT. DOWN." James snarled. Startled, Maria complied. James glared at her some more, and stood up. He went to the projector which had shown scenes of the battle earlier as the FBI agent and the police chief of the station. James looked around the room as he set up the screen again.

"Why you ever got to be a police captain, I'll never know. You got fooled by a goddam merc."

Maria blinked in confusion at the statement. James smiled sullenly and put a new tape in the projector. An image of Alia Falcos appeared on the screen.

"Alia Falcos is a mercenary of the lowest order. The problem is, she's also one of the best. We THINK she has been involved in the kidnappings of various British officials several years ago. We also think she may have been the one who stole several million dollars in drug money a few weeks ago. She's also probably responsible for things we don't even know about. We have a lot of intelligence on her, mostly sketchy, but very little concrete evidence on what she's done. That story about a tournament? It's a common lie she tells to get fools like you off her back. Her only virtues are that she refuses to kill and the fact that she consistantly takes in and takes care of people who are down on their luck."

Maria frowned. "I don't understand. What do you mean you 'think' she was involved?"

James glared at her. "Because, at each crime scene, the only ones we found were vegetables. Their minds had been completely shut down by her powers."


"We're not sure, but we believe that she has the ability to shut down parts of the human mind via a rainbow-like aura she apparently uses. We don't understand the full nature of it. She's worked with various partners throughout the years. We've managed to get some of them to work for us, but she always finds out somehow, and they all end up totally braindead. The only good part about it is, is that this 'aura' is somewhat limited."

Maria gasped. James nodded.

"Indeed. She turned off Rowdman's ability to change into his werewolf state, as well as his ability to breath fire. She probably would have crippled him if the three unknowns hadn't landed on them. We've discovered that this ability first manifested when she was a teenager, and didn't have as much control as she does now. When it first appeared, she turned her parents' minds OFF. Her parents have been in a vegetative coma for years now."

Maria gasped again. James moved the image forward. On it was an image of Alia slowly lowering herself down from the roof of a museum, gently removing a priceless-looking gem from a glass casing. Powder was floating around the floor, revealing a very large web of laser sensors. Flames of various of varous colors danced about Alia's legs, giving the impression that something was holding her up.
"She's a very talented thief as well as mercenary, and uses this aura of hers, which we now believe we have not seen the full nature of, to aid her. When she was in her twenties and still legit, before she became a mercenary, she got married to an FBI agent, Sean O'Connel, and had a daughter named Alyssa. But unfortunetly, they were both killed when a criminal that O'Connel had been tracking for several years, and who, unfortunetly, had been a longtime rival of Alia's, caught up with them and set a car bomb. Her husband and daughter had to be picked up with a sponge. She went first to the FBI, but when they refused to help, she set out on her own. The details are sketchy, but we believe that she may be involved with nearly every major player in the game, up to and including Shadowloo and the Illuminati."

"And the werewolves?"

"Two of them were former Mad Gear members that were turned into werewolves via unknown means. As for Rowdman, the leader, well... We don't know much about him, except for a whole bunch of heresay we've gleaned from Interpol."

Maria frowned. "But what about the old fighter, and Marionette and Shadow?"

"Total unknowns, I'm afraid. Our agency doesn't know what to make of them," James said as he walked over to the flat, featureless walls of the interrogation room.

Another thought occured to Maria. "You mentioned that this 'aura' is limited. How?"

James grinned. "This was an incredible break for us when we found out. It turns out that in battle, this aura is severly limited. It cannot maintain itself, losing all of it's power if she is injured in a way that affects her mind, heart or lungs, and must retreat into her mind for a few seconds to 'recharge' itself, for lack of a better term. Also, it needs to be inactive to build up enough power for some of her stronger attacks. Alia is a skilled fighter, but, apparently, she relies heavily on this 'aura' of hers. She can be beaten if it is incapacitated."

Maria shook her head, "All this..."

James grinned. "Your officers were awfully calm during the attack."

"They're well-trained. Aside from that I think it was mainly shock. I had trouble acting at first when I saw them."

James shook his head. "Miss Chavez, you have placed yourself in a very bad situation. You compromised security by trading the more powerful Marionette for the werewolf Roxy, allowed yourself to be blackmailed by an apparently superhuman mercenary, and on top of that you let Alia as well as four superhuman monsters dissappear into what is apparently into a transportational portal to God knows where."
He walked around the room again. "This must not get out. The existance of creatures such as these must never become public. What happened here was tragic, but has nothing to do with monsters."

Maria blinked. "Yes it does. My assistant called the papers about it. She has an interview with them today."

"No she doesn't, Miss Chavez. When we heard about your acquisitions, we worked immediately, taking over the phone lines and monitoring any and all calls. Your assistant talked to one of ours. The public DOES NOT need to know about this."
Maria smirked, folding her arms, not believing him for a second. "And what do you want them to think?"

James glared at her. "The official story will be, and your officers WILL abide by this if they value their freedom, that three rabid wolves escaped from the zoo, killing several officers before being put down. We'll do some tests on Roxy and figure out what to do from there. As for you, Miss Chavez, you have fucked up rightously, and, pending federal charges against you, are under arrest."

In the Cursed Forests...
In one of the 'safe' areas of the forest...

Alia and Rip both watched as Marionette and Shadow talked amongst themselves. They didn't really like it, but they knew there was no stopping the two of them.

Rip growled to himself, and turned over to Alia. "What do you think their gabbin' about? I thought they were suppossed to hate each other."

Alia glared at him. "I wouldn't know, but whatever it is, I don't like it. Problem is," she said, sighing, "is that she's basically just a little kid. She's still very naive."

Sheng Long appeared next to them. "That she is. But this little journey will help fix that. Now, I want you two to do something for me."

"But..." Rip started.

"I know where the next moonbridge is, don't worry. We'll meet you outside the forest, on the outskirts of the Chaosgrounds."

"I don't trust her with Shadow," Alia said.

Sheng Long grinned. "Which would you rather have, Miss Falcos? Her losing out to her demonic side whenever she's with him? Or her just sitting down and talking with him, keeping her human side in control?"

Alia said nothing for a moment, then mumbled something. Sheng Long wasn't sure, but he thought it sounded like "Shut up, Cally."
"Okay," she said out loud, "What do you want the puppy-dog and I to do?"

Sheng Long grinned.

A few feet away...

Shadow grimaced as Marionette clapped at the portion of the story he told. To add to the story, he was shaping his hands and chest into various shapes that went with the tale It was one of his father's ideas. He thought that if he could become friends with Marionette, their mission to restore his memory would go quicker. Shadow didn't see how... but he also couldn't be sure that he was entirely wrong. So he took tales from his swiss-cheesed memory that he remembered and told them to the young girl, being sure to leave out certain parts that would scare someone her age. And now, he was at the climax of the tale.

"But, just then, the evil vampire king lashed out, striking down the wolf princess and the shadow knight with his sword of hellfire!"

Marionette ooohed as an image of a dark, bat-winged man in a crown struck down a woman with a wolf's head and a man in white armor.

"The king laughed, 'Insolent fool! Now you will know that I will RULE this land forever!' But the knight, battered and bruised, slowly got to his feet, raising his warhammer. 'Evil vampire, you will never rule, not so long as beings with good in their heart live. Have at you!' The knight got to his feet and swung his warhammer directly at the head of the vampire king! The vampire king could not parry the strike in time, and died instantly. His evil essence flowed out of his body as it melted into a puddle, and flew off into the distance. The wolf princess was very grateful to the shadow knight, and asked him to stay and be her husband. The shadow knight shook his head no. 'I am sorry, my love. But so long as the essence of the evil one lives, I cannot rest. But be assured, once my quest is completed, I shall return to you.' And so the wolf princess and the shadow knight embraced one last time, and the shadow knight got on his horse, riding off to track down and destroy the essence of the vampire king for all time."

The last image Shadow created was a heroic one of the shadow knight galloping off into the sunset. There was no color, save for black, white, and grey, but it was still an awe-inspiring image.

At least, it was to Marionette.

"Oooohh. Yay!" she said as Shadow finished. She clapped, giggling. "More story! More story!"

Feh. Shadow thought. Fortunetly, before Shadow could think of something nasty to say to Marionette, Sheng Long came over to them.

"Having fun, kids?" he asked, a friendly grin on his face. Shadow resisted the urge to snarl.

"It was cool!" Marionette said, sitting on her knees as she turned to Sheng Long, "Shadow started telling me all these neato stories! There was one about an evil wizard who killed a king, and his son was sent out to grow alone, and there was one about this mean old machine and a big bad sorcerer that liked hurting everyone, and how seven kings got their armies together and beat 'em up, and, and..."

Sheng Long laughed, "Well, son. It seems you have a way with children."

"Can we get on with this? I want to get my memory back so I can figure away back into a solid form," Shadow griped. Then he noticed that Alia and Rip were leaving, and asked, "And just where are those two going?"

Marionette blinked and turned to Alia just as she went out of sight on one of Rip's moonbridges that allowed him to move safely through the forest. "Alia, wait up!" Marionette cried, starting to her feet and running after them. Tears were starting to form in her eyes as the moonbridge sealed up, but she kept running anyway, not wanting Alia to leave her behind.

Before she could run into the Cursed Forest, an act which would have almost certainly killed her, Sheng Long Ashura warped right in front of her, grabbing her and holding her tight, even as she tried to escape and run after Alia.

"Child, it's all right. I just asked Alia and Rip to do me a favor."

"N-No... She.... She promised to stay with me... and take care of me..." Marionette said, starting to cry.

"They'll be back, I swear to you. I swear it on my own soul that they'll be back, and you'll be together again," Sheng Long said, his voice soothing. Shadow, mildly curious, drifted over to them.

"Alia... No... I have to go with her..." Marionette collapsed into his arms and started sobbing.

Sheng Long hugged her tightly. "It's all right, Marionette,"

"M'name's Abby," she sniffled.

"Okay. Abby. She'll be back. I just needed them to get something from a big choo-choo train?"

Marionette looked up at him, her face red from crying, "Choo-choo?"

Sheng Long nodded. "Yes. From a big choo-choo train. It'll help you control your demonic side."

Marionette blinked, and rested her head on Sheng Long's shoulder, tears still flowing, but not as much. Shadow looked thoughtful for a moment.

"'Choo-choo?'" he said, thinking out loud, "Well, the only choo-choo in this world that I can think of is..." Shadow's eyes widened as he realized where Alia and Rip had been sent. Sheng Long shushed him quietly. Marionette looked up at Sheng Long.

"She'll be back?" Marionette asked after a long moment. Sheng Long nodded, smiling benevolently. Marionette smiled back and sniffled again, wiping the tears from her eyes, "Okay then."

Much to both Shadow and Sheng Long's surprise, she popped to her feet right then and there and said, in an EXTREMELY perky voice, "Let's go! I wanna go see the Shadowlands!"

"Unbelievable," both Sheng Long and Shadow said at the same time. Sheng Long laughed and got to his feet. Shadow shook his head in disgust. "How can she care so much about that Falcos woman? How much does she know about her?" he demanded.

"She lost both her memory and her mother, all within a period of two days. Alia I guess has become sort of a surrogate mother to her, and she's scared of being abandoned by her. That's why she perked up so quickly when I said that she was just going on a mission, and would be back."

Bullshit, Shadow thought to himself, I don't buy it for one second. Everyone has ulterior motives for EVERYTHING, and Falcos is no exception. I just don't know what it is yet. But when I find out, I'll make DAMN sure to throw it in Marionette's face.

"Shadow, you coming?" Sheng Long said. He had already begun to open the moonbridge, reciting words he had learned from the head of a great wolfpack centuries ago that would allow them to pass safely through the forest.

Marionette watched, amazed, as the moon shone down on the ground, creating a bridge of light through the forest. Then a thought occured to Marionette.

"Umm... Mr.Sheng Long sir? Why do we need to keep using the moonbridges? Why can't we just go through the forest?"

Sheng Long bit his lip and sighed, deciding to be honest with her, "Because the trees are cursed. These groves are the only safe spots in the forest, and only leaders of werepacks and whomever they teach know how to open the moonbridges to get through to them safely. If we tried to go through the forest itself, we'd be ripped into shreds, our flesh and souls devoured by the trees."

Marionette squeaked, and paled visibly. Shadow laughed. "That's right, DAD, just make the kid confident about moving around in here."

Sheng Long snarled at Shadow and finished the ritual. A moonbeam hit the ground in front of Sheng Long, and expanded, showing a long path of light.

"All right. Let's move. We should arrive on the outskirts of the Shadowlands."

Sheng Long stepped onto the moonbridge, and dissappeared in a blur of motion. Shadow grunted and drifted onto the path. He too vanished in a blur of darkness as the moonbridge carried him along at high speed. Marionette whimpered slightly, and followed them.
The trip through the last part of the forest was uneventful, and they arrived on the border leading to the other three parts of the Makai Wastelands. Sheng Long pointed to the east.

"There. The Shadowlands."

There was a steep cliff on the edge of the forest, one with jagged peaks, and unstable ledges. One slip while climbing down, and they would fall to their doom.

So Marionette flew down via her handle and strings, Shadow floated down, and Sheng Long teleported down.

When they landed on the ground, Sheng Long turned to them again. "Our first stop is the Story Gardens. The ruins of a castle are hidden a few miles beyond them. One that you may know about, sonny."

"What are you babbling about?" Shadow snarled.

"The castle of Valdoll, during the unrecorded time of the Infernal Trinity, was based in the Shadowlands."

Shadow's eyes widened as the name struck a chord in his memory. A bad one.

"... Let's go then," Shadow said after a moment.

Marionette grinned. "Ooooh! Story Gardens! Like happy stories with princesseses and knights?"

Sheng Long winced. "No, Marionette. Sad stories, of wars, and the destruction of the lands. Stories of "

Marionette frowned. "I wanna happy story. One with Barney. Or Darkwing Duck."

Sheng Long shuddered. Shadow blinked. "'Barney?'"

"An extremely perky big fat dinosaur that sings extremely perky songs. You're better off not knowing the details. C'mon, let's get a move on."

The trio set out into the darkness. No one noticed the small, wispy form as it flitted ahead of them.

Hours later...

The journey was uneventful, but Marionette was scared the whole time. She clung to Sheng Long's arm as they walked over the barren, rocky terrain. Sheng Long did what he could to comfort her, but the constantly shifting, shadowy environments made it hard for Sheng Long himself to be brave.

Shadow glided easily over the landscape. The shifting forms of the landscape were no trouble to him. However, something then happened that made him pause.

Marionette blinked. "Did we go back to New York?"

Sheng Long looked around, then snarled. "Oh fine. Let's just keep moving."

They had wandered into an area seemingly made of pure darkness. But the shapes and designs of the buildings made the entire place look like Times Square in New York, right down to the changing images on the signs.

"There are these all over the place. I really can't describe them, but they take the shapes of any kind of environment, be it one in Makai, one on Earth, or something else entirely. It will fade if we just keep moving through it... Marionette?"

Sheng Long and Shadow looked around. Distracted by their surroundings, Sheng Long had let go of Marionette, and she had wandered off.

"Marionette?!?" Sheng Long shouted, looking about frantically.

Shadow grunted, "Why are you worried about the little rodent, anyway? She's powerful, she'll be fine."

"That's not what I'm worried about. I know she can handle herself in a fight. YOU possessed her just fine, but you aren't exactly a normal shadow. I'm scared that she may cease to exsist if a normal marionette or shadow gets a hold of her and tries to possess her."
Shadow laughed. "And wouldn't that be a shame?"

Sheng Long glared at him, his eyes flashing red. "Even more so for you. You will NEVER regain your full memory without her."
Shadow stared at Sheng Long, "You're serious, aren't you?"

Sheng Long nodded.

Shadow snarled, "Damn. Marionette! Get your ass back here NOW!"

Further into the pseudo-city...

Marionette looked around at the city. After a voice caught her attention, she had drifted away from Sheng Long and Shadow, looking for the source. As she did, the landscape shifted, going from the familiar buildings of the city, to the blasted terrain of the Shadowlands they were walking through to begin with, to what appeared to be a spider web made out of slides and ladders. Giggling, Marionette slid down one of the larger ones, coming to a rest on a small platform, covered in black flowers, more slides, and more ladders. Marionette cooed. The flowers were beautiful, and reminded her of her mother's hair...

This thought made Marionette sad. Because of Shadow, the only memory she had of her mother was her terrified face, contorting in fear because of HER. Tears formed in her eyes as she sniffled.

"Stupid Shadow. Why did he want me anyway? I was just a little girl."

This train of thought was starting to anger her. "Stupid stupid STUPID Shadow! He ruined everything for me!" Her eyes flashed red and she pounded her fist on the platform. "EVERYTHING!"

"Hey hey now! Don't be mad! Come and play with me and sing happy songs!" a soft, giggling voice said.

Marionette looked up, her eyes returning to normal, "What the... I know that voice..."

"Yep yep yep ya do! Come on down the slide on yer left, and we can sing a hap-hap-happy song!"

Marionette grinned, finally realizing who it was. She got up and sat down on a slide.

"Hyuk hyuk! That's the slide on yer right!"

Marionette muttered, "I really gotta get Alia to teach me this stuff," and got down on the other slide. Sliding down, giggling all the way, she landed on a pile of shadowy pillows piled in front of a stage. The curtains parted, revealing a tubby purple dinosaur with black spots and black eyes.

"Barney! YAY!" Marionette said, clapping. She had seen Barney on Alia's TV the morning before they left for Makai and had fallen in love with the show.

"Hyuk hyuk hyuk! Hiya kiddo! Let's both sing a happy song!"

"Oooh! Let's sing the 'I love you' song!"

"Well, since yer such a good kid, I'll let you start! Hyuk hyuk!"

Marionette giggled, and thought back to the show. "Okay! Umm... Oh yeah. I love you, you love me..."

Barney picked up the song as Marionette sang, slowly moving himself closer to her. Marionette was so wrapped up in the song, she didn't notice this, nor did she notice 'Barney's' hands unravelling, becoming shadowy claws that slowly started to merge with her.
"with great big... huh? Barney... what are you... EEEEEKKK!" 'Barney' had taken on his true form, that of a great, wispy shadow with glowing white eyes.

"Your time ends now, little one..." the shadow said, chuckling as it merged itself with Marionette's body.

Marionette screamed again, her eyes glazing over as more and more of the shadow's essence merged itself with her. She felt her mind start to shut down, when a voice she never thought she'd be glad to hear.

"I think not, little wisp," Shadow said as he gripped the creature's head. He pulled, and ripped the creature free of Marionette. Groaning, Marionette collapsed, her strings falling limp. Sheng Long caught her.

"Are you all right?" he asked.

"Uuuhhh... What happened? What did he do to me?" Marionette said. She looked up and saw Shadow, laughing wildly as he drained life from the other shadow, which was slowly shrinking.

"He tried to procreate. Shadows and marionettes do things differently from most monsters and humans. If he had merged completely with you, there would have been a bright flash of light, and you and he would have been replaced by six new shadows or marionettes."

Marionette looked at the creature, which Shadow had finished with and thrown to the side. She sniffled, her eyes glowing red as tears pooled up in them again. "You're a bad man," she said suddenly.

Shadow, sensing trouble, moved out of the way.

"You're a VERY bad man," she said, her demonic side taking over as she stood up, the key in her back starting to spin.

The shadow glared at her, "It is the way of things here, little puppet. Should I be condemned for trying one of the old ways?"

"Yes, you should," Marionette growled, her demonic half fully in control. She stood stock-straight, her handle making her rise into the air.

"Um... Mari... Abigail, what are you doing?" Shadow said, nervous, but visibly impressed with his creation.

"Don't do this. He's nothing, he's beaten, we can leave him here," Sheng Long insisted.

"NO!" she roared, turning to the two men, making them flinch, "He's a bad man. He tried to hurt me. He must be punished." A wicked grin came to her face, "He tried to take my soul, so I'll destroy his."

The creature stared, fascinated as Marionette's body started to glow. Her handle detached itself from her strings, and drifted over to the shadow, floating above him as he stared at Marionette, unable to move.

Strings shot from the handle, attaching themselves to the neck, wrists, and tail of the shadow. A ball of light appeared under the handle and slowly lowered itself right onto the back of the shadow. The light engulfed the creature, blinding Sheng Long and Shadow. When they could see again, they gasped.

Marionette's handle was back in place over her strings, her key had stopped turning, and her body had stopped glowing. She floated slightly above the ground, smiling evilly.

Then they saw the shadow.

It hung from a small spike on the stage by it's handle. A shiny silver key protuded from it's back, it's silk strings shimmering slightly. Sheng Long moved forward cautiously and touched the skin of the creature.

"Wood. Solid wood," he said, a look of horror frozen on his face.

"Marionette, what did you DO!?" Shadow asked, incredulous.

Marionette grinned, the glow from her eyes starting to fade. "He hurt me. So I hurt him. He called me a puppet so I turned him into one. He doesn't exist anymore."

Sheng Long's jaw dropped, "No... This is beyond what I expected..."

Shadow laughed, "Ha HAAAA! Brillant! Exquisite! I love it! Bravo!"

Marionette sneered at Shadow, the glow from her eyes fading completely. She then clutched her chest and fell to her knees, her teeth clenched as she tried not to scream in pain.

Sheng Long rushed to her side. "Abby, what's wrong?"

"Hurts..." she hissed, "Everytime... I do something bad... it hurts..."

Shadow smirked. Sheng Long glared at him. "What did you do, Malken?"

Shadow laughed. "I created her with a failsafe. Every time she commits an act of evil, a piece of her innocence is torn away."

"Hurts..." Marionette moaned, curling up into a ball and falling unconcious, her handle clattering on the ground as her strings went limp.

"That was stupid, Malken. We NEED her to maintain some of her innocence."

"WHY!?" Shadow roared, finally having enough. "EVER since we met, you've been playing word games with us all, being vague about the real reason you brought us here."

"I've told you the reason I brought you all here," Sheng Long said, gathering Marionette and her handle up in his arms and starting to walk out of the landscape.

"Don't give me that!" Shadow said, floating after him, clenching his fists, "You forget that I have much experience working with double-talkers like you and the Makai Lords. The Beast Paladin? The Spirit-Weilding Valkyrie? The Dark Traitor? The High Priestess? Those sound like names with a purpose."

Sheng Long sighed, but kept walking. The shadowy landscape faded around them as they came up to a mountain range.
"All right. There is a reason behind why I brought you all here," Sheng Long said, "I can't tell you yet, but it concerns the Shade Lord."

Shadow blinked. "The Shade Lord?" He thought back, but his swiss-cheesed memory yielded little information. Finally, he found something, "Wasn't he killed by a mortal sorcerer during the Realms War?"

They had continued to walk as they talked, and had come up to the mountain range quickly. Two massive golems stood impassively on each side of the closest pass. Shadow stared at the golems for a moment and suddenly became very nervous, sticking to the darkness.

"Yes. But don't you remember anything else?"

"I remember that I aided the Lords of the time against the Trinity, and I know that the Trinity ruled for a short time, and that I was their apprentice. Other than that..."

Sheng Long shook his head as they came near the pass, "Then you have some hard lessons ahead of you, my boy. My only hope is that your time in the darkness pools has given you a chance to reflect on your character."

They finally came close to the pass. The golems looked up and said,

"The way is open."

"The Shade Lord is dead."

And then they looked down again. Sheng Long walked passed them. When he noticed that Shadow wasn't following, he turned and looked for him. He found him hiding in the shadow of a large boulder.

"Shadow, come on. Let's get moving."

Reluctantly, Shadow came out of his hiding spot. Slowly, he drifted by the golems.

Then Sheng Long remembered something about the golems, "Malken, MOVE IT! If you don't, the golems will..."

The golems eyes flew open. Their heads turned shockingly quick to glare at Shadow. Shadow didn't know what frightened him worse. The fact that the giants were staring at him, or the fact that they seemed to recognize him.

"YOU!" one golem roared.

"TRAITOR!" roared the other.

"Oh no..." Shadow whimpered, and started flying away as fast as he could as the golems started to turn towards him bodily.

Sheng Long, still carrying Marionette, began to run. Shadow caught up with him quickly.

"Sheng Long, what did I do to get them so angry?!" Shadow asked as the golems started after him.

"All will be explained in time. But now is not the time for speaking. Now is the time for RUNNING."

To be continued...

Shadow & Marionette are copyright Capcom.  Sheng Long is copyright... well, this version is copyright me.  Original Charas are copyright ME.