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Crystal Cave

Hope and the others were falling through a swirling vortex of magenta and yellow energy, desperately clinging to each other.

"What the hell is this?!" Sam demanded.

"We're in Subspace!" Shadow explained. "The energy from the gem is carrying us between dimensions!"

"Oh Aurora…" Jewel gasped. "Oh Aurora!"

"Jewel! Calm down!" Hope yelled. "You need to focus!"

"I-I-I'm trying!" Jewel cried.

"This kinda looks like the Egress spell from Shining Force!" Cass exclaimed.

"Cass, would you please...?" Clove began.

"Hey!" Axel cut in. "I think we're almost out!"

They were approaching a light at the end of the warp tunnel.

"Do you see the chamber, Omega?!" Rouge asked.

"Negative!" Omega cried. "Too...many...lights!"

"Hang on!" Sam shouted. "Here we go!"

The group was spat out of a warp gate and into another part of the cave. They all landed heavily, taking a moment to catch their breath. Clove was the first to speak up.

"I am never… gonna do that… again."

"Stop picking on Max, everybody," Cassia muttered. "He's doing his best…"

She fell over.

"Oh, my aching head…" Shadow mumbled, rubbing his temples. Suddenly, he clutched his head in agony and fell to his knees; a sharp noise ringing through his ears.

"Shadow!" Hope immediately rushed to his side. "Are you okay? What's wrong?"

"I-It's...it's here…" Shadow managed, pulling himself up. "The gem...it's here. We made it."

Jewel looked around, taking stock of the chamber before perking.

"He's right…" she realized. "This is where we found it!"

"But where is it?" Axel asked.

"Uh, guys?" Rouge began. "I think I found it."

She was pointing to a yellow, baseball-sized stone lodged into the cavern walls. It had a magenta iridescence to it and gave off a soft glow similar to the orbs. The most striking characteristic however, was the red, spiral pattern on it, giving it an almost hypnotic look.

"Good Gaia…" Clove whispered.

"It's a Warp Topaz…" Hope realized before facepalming. "Duh! That explains everything!"

"A what now?" Sam asked.

"A rare type of Power Gem with the ability to bend and warp space," Hope explained. "With the proper machinery, one can harness its exotic energies to teleport anywhere they can imagine instantly and open windows in reality to see what's going on in places miles away. Some even theorize they can open portals to other dimensions."

Axel whistled. "Damn. That's something."

"Hold on, Hope," Rouge said. "I've seen a few Warp Topazes in my day, and they've never been able to do things like this one."

"That's because this isn't an ordinary Warp Topaz," Hope explained. "See that red spiral? All Warp Topazes have them, but this one is a golden ratio."

"Uhhh…what does that mean?" Clove pondered.

"The golden ratio is the irrational number which is equal to the sum of its own reciprocal and 1," Cass said. "In geometry, it's used to calculate a spiral that goes on infinitely, and artists use it to design and space their pictures."

Everyone just looked at Cass.

"Cass, how did you…?" Clove began.

"They mentioned it in Bobo's Absurd Journey Part 7: Cannonball Derby (1). Awesome manga, can't wait for the anime!"

"You lost me on 'the'." Axel deadpanned.

"Basically, it means that this particular Warp Topaz has the equivalent power of a Chaos Emerald," Hope simplified.

"In other words, REALLY bad news for Mobius if someone like Eggman got their hands on it." Sam concluded. "So, how do we get this thing out?"

Hope tapped her chin in thought. "Well first, we need to do something about the orbs and distortions it keeps creating. Shadow, you can warp spacetime using Chaos Control. Do you think you can neutralize its power?"

"Only one way to find out."

Shadow closed his eyes, extended his hand, and pointed it at the Warp Topaz. He focused his power on the gemstone, taking deep, even breaths as he did.

"Chaos…" Shadow suddenly opened his eyes and made a fist. "…Control!"

Shadow's chaos energy enveloped the Warp Topaz. The hedgehog grit his teeth as the energies clashed and flared. His nose started to bleed a little.

"Come on…" he wheezed. "Come on…"

"Sis, I'm scared…" Cass let out as she clung to Clove.

"Me too," Clove admitted as the energy began to go crazy.

"Come on!"

Shadow performed a slashing motion, causing the energies to be cleaved in half and dissipated.

-X-

Meanwhile, in another part of the cavern, the Skunk Bros. were lying in a heap.

"Oh, my aching everything!" Rough grumbled as they pulled themselves up. "Just once, can we have some good luck?!"

At that moment, the entire cavern shook.

"R-Rough!" Tumble stammered. "What's goin' on?!"

"It's a cave-in, dumbass!" Rough snapped.

"Aww no! We're gonna get crushed by rocks again!" Tumble clung to Rough. "I don't wanna get crushed by rocks again!"

As suddenly as it began, the quaking stopped.

"Eh?" Rough blinked. "Is it over?"

"D-Did we get crushed by rocks again?" Tumble asked stupidly.

Rough gave him a blank look, but at that moment, they heard a pained scream from Shadow.

"Hey, it's that Shadow dude!" Tumble perked.

"It is!" Rough grinned. "And if he's there, then his little pals are there too! Including..."

"The deer bitch!" Tumble immediately took off.

"Tumble, wait!"

"Yer gonna pay fer what you did to my tail!"

"Tumble!" Rough chased after him. "Get your ass back here!"

-X-

The Warp Topaz stopped glowing and became inert. Shadow wavered before collapsing

"Shadow!" Hope cried.

"Are you okay!?" Rouge demanded.

"I…I think I just gave myself a migraine…" Shadow let out. "Or a stroke."

"No signs of abnormal brain activity or internal injury detected," Omega reported. "Though you do have something on your face."

Shadow felt the blood on his nose and pulled out a tissue. "Yeah, I think I'm gonna sit down for a moment."

"Good idea." Hope got out the Chaos Containment Unit. "Alright, all we need to do now is cut this out, lock it up, and get out of here."

"Looks like I'm up, again." Clove stepped forward. "Cass, go with Axel and keep an eye out in case those skunks show up."

"But sis…"

"Now, Cassia," Clove ordered. Cassia sagged sadly.

"C'mon Cass, let's go," Axel said as he escorted the younger pronghorn away. As they left, Hope looked at them in concern and worry.

"Clove," Hope asked. "Are you okay?"

"I'm fine, Hope," Clove said as she twisted the tip of her scythe, not even looking at her old charge. "I'm just tired." After a few seconds of twisting, Clove pulled out the tip of her scythe, the blade projector connected to a long cord.

"Paratonnerre!" The scythe's laser blade flared to life.

"Alright, now just cut about one to two inches around it," Hope instructed. "Be sure not to touch the gem. It may be inert, but it's still dangerous."

"Roger." With that, Clove began cutting.

"Have I told you how much we missed having you around this past week?" Rouge said. "Because we did."

Hope smiled. "I missed you guys too."

"You all are awfully close for a spec ops team," Jewel commented.

"You don't know the half of it," Shadow smiled wearily.

"It's true," Omega stated. "I have observed a 40-50% decrease in mission satisfaction without your presence."

"I'm done."

The others turned just in time to see Clove turn off her scythe.

"Oh… thank goodness," Hope sighed. "Omega?"

"Securing Power Gem." Omega carefully grabbed the gem, removing it from the wall and slowly placing it in the containment unit. "Warp Topaz secured."

As Hope sealed it up, she didn't notice Clove looming over her, eyes narrowed. She readied her deactivated scythe, bringing the handle down toward the back of Hope's head... only for Rouge to catch her arm mid-swing.

"What the?!" Hope spun around, seeing it.

"Well, well, well, isn't this a surprise," Rouge mused.

"Clove, what are you doing?" Hope demanded.

Axel and Cassia came running back, hearing the commotion.

"What the hell is going on?!" Cass shouted.

"Clove here just tried to K.O. Hope and steal the Warp Topaz," Rouge explained, looking over the scythe. "Just as I thought. Rough and Tumble didn't give us the slip on their own. You cut them loose yourself."

Clove's eyes widened in horror.

"W-what?" Cassia let out.

"Tell me, what did Axel say was the only thing that could cut his chains?" Rouge asked. "A laser cutter. I had my suspicions after I watched you carve up those rocks. Just what's your game here, Pronghorn?"

"I think I know," Shadow cut in. "She's doing this for Cassia." He turned to the elder Pronghorn. "We know what's going on. The medication, the inhaler. Your sister has NIDS."

Those who didn't know were taken aback.

"H-how did you-?!" Clove managed in shock.

"Cassia told Hope and I everything," Shadow explained. "We overheard your little talk, as well as you and Axel talking about my powers. You said that she 'wouldn't like this'."

Axel began to sweat. Hope stood up, facing her friend.

"Cass was afraid you'd do something crazy, Clove," she let out. "But this?!"

"You don't understand, Hope!" Clove insisted. "Cassia's medicine is ungodly expensive! And with Eggman and his army running amok, the price keeps going up! Between the bounty on Rough and Tumble, and selling that gem on the black market, we'd be able to afford her pills for years!"

"So you set free two dangerous criminals and tried to steal a raw Power Gem with reality breaking power?!" Hope demanded. "Endangering people's lives?! The ends don't justify the means, Clove!"

"Maybe not, but morality is a luxury I no longer have!" Clove snapped.

"Clove…" Cass teared up. "How could you?"

"Everything I do is to keep Cass alive, Hope!" Clove ranted. "Even if it means sacrificing my own mind and soul, I don't care! She's my little sister! She's all I have left! What would you have done if you had a chance to save your grandmother?! Or your uncle?! Or your parents?! What would you have done?!"

Hope was left speechless.

"That's what I thought," Clove raised her scythe. "Paratonnerre!" She activated her scythe, knocking the box out of Hope's hands. "Axel, now!"

Axel nodded. "On it!"

He whipped out his chains, yanking the box toward him. With that, Clove pulled off a sweeping attack, zapping everyone. They screamed in pain before collapsing.

"I'm sorry, Hope," Clove sighed. "I'm so sorry…"

She turned to Axel. "Alright, we got the gem, let's find the skunks and cash in."

"Right." Axel agreed.

A click sounded. The two turned to see a very unhappy Cassia pointing her tonfa guns at them.

"Cass-?!" Axel let out.

"Put. The box. Down, you two," Cass hissed.

"Cassia, we don't have time for this!" Clove insisted.

"Well, too bad! We're making time! Now drop the box!"

"Cass, please," Axel pleaded. "We get that you're upset, but..."

"UPSET?!" Cassia shrieked. "You betrayed our friends! You lied to me!" Tears streamed down her cheeks. "How could you do this?!"

"I'm doing it for you!" Clove shouted. "To save your life!"

"Dammit Clove, wake up! I'm beyond saving! NIDS is incurable! All the meds do is delay the inevitable! You're wasting what little time I have left when all I want is to be a family!"

"Cass, please…" Clove pleaded.

Cass turned to Axel. "Axel, you always talk about how the crew is supposed to look out for each other! Well, how is this looking out for each other?!"

Axel was left speechless.

"Cassia, that's enough!" Clove shouted. "We've already decided on this and-!"

"...You're right," Axel let out.

"What?!" Clove shrieked.

Axel sighed. "Clove, this is wrong. All of it."

"Axel, c'mon!"

"We can't do this," Axel insisted. "This isn't the way. If your father was here, he'd never forgive me for letting it get this far."

"I…" Clove managed, tearing up.

"Clove…"

The hunters turned around to see Hope and the others coming to, still a bit singed from Clove's attack. "I know this is hard for you, but...you have to let go."

"Hope…"

"I know exactly what you're going through," Hope went on. "You're scared. Your whole world is falling apart and you don't know what to do. So you do whatever it takes to try and keep it together, no matter the cost." She shook her head. "But that's not gonna make things better. All you're doing is hurting yourself, and more importantly, the people who care about you. And you don't even realize it because you're too busy thinking about everything that's going wrong."

"I… you…"

"Ask yourself this, Clove," Shadow added. "Why did you start doing all this in the first place?"

Clove slowly turned to Cass, both of them crying now.

"I have a saying for you," Hope began. "Sonic said it to me when I first met him. 'Don't just sit there and waste your precious time. When you want to do something, do it right away. Do it when you can. It's the only way to live a life without regrets.' That's all Cass wants to do. Live her life to the fullest in the time she has, with you and Axel by her side."

"But I… I just…" Clove wiped her eyes. "I don't want you to die, Cass."

Cassia looked her in the eye. "Then let me live."

Clove stood there, contemplating her words, before a new voice cut in.

"D'aaaaaw… ain't that sweet?"

They all spun around, seeing Rough and Tumble at the entry to the cave.

"You again…" Hope spat.

"Like the rocks in this cave…" Rough began.

"You're gonna crumble!" Tumble added.

"It's payback time for Rough and Tumble!" the two declared in unison, striking a pose.

"Seriously?!" Sam spat. "You two really know how to kill the mood!"

"We know how to kill people, too!" Rough said, cracking his knuckles.

Clove scowled, readying her scythe. "You wanna get more than your tail lopped off, asshole? Fine by me!"

"The only one gettin' somethin' lopped off is you, Bambi!" Tumble roared. "I'm gonna skin yer bitch ass and make a brand new tail outta yer carcass!"

"Ewww…!" Cassia let out in disgust.

"Axel!" Clove shouted.

"Right!"

Axel charged at them, throwing a punch. Tumble raised his hand with a smirk, revealing a pink Power Gem in his glove as he caught the punch. Before he could react, Tumble jammed the smoking, glowing gem in his face, which unleashed a burst of force that knocked Axel off his feet (2).

"Axel!" Cassia screamed.

"What the hell?!" Clove demanded.

"Power Gems… a merc's best friend." Tumble kissed the gem before charging.

"A Force Garnet?!" Hope exclaimed. "Where did you-?!"

"Let's just say we're friends with some veeeery interesting people," Rough gloated.

"I thought you hated Hoodsey?" Tumble asked.

"Shut up, Tumble!" Rough shouted.

"Hoodsey?" Rouge questioned. "Who the hey is Hoodsey?"

Rough smirked. "Curious, toots? Allow me to...enlighten you."

He pulled out a purple stone with specks and slotted it in his glove. "I'mma firin' mah lazaaaaar!"

He projected a beam of light at them. They immediately scrambled for cover as the beam burned a hole through the wall where they had been standing mere seconds before.

"By Aurora…" Jewel gasped. "A Flash Amethyst!"

"Holy shit!" Cassia screamed.

"Cassia…" Clove began.

"Clove, if you say language, I will-!"

"LOOK OUT!"

Cass turned to see Rough preparing another attack. "Yikes!"

She blocked the punch with her tonfa. "Nice try, Stubby!"

"STUBBY?!" Rough screamed, just as Cass beaned him in the face before going on the offensive, beating him back.

"Bellringer! Gutbuster! Jawbreaker! Ribcrusher!" She aimed her guns. "And now...!"

"Seizure Procedure!" Rough raised his amethyst, unleashing a strobe light. Cassia let out a scream, reeling back before collapsing as a violent seizure racked her body.

"CASS!" Clove screamed in horror.

Rough narrowly ducked a Chaos Spear thrown at his head. Shadow stepped in, readying another one.

"Hope! Sam!" he began. "Take Cassia and fall back! We'll hold them off!"

"Right!" Hope nodded.

The group joined the fray, allowing Clove to grab Cass and regroup with Hope, Jewel, and Sam.

"Come on, we gotta get outta here!" Sam yelled.

They hurried out of the chamber, setting the spasming Cassia down. Sam snatched up a stick, getting a look from Hope.

"What?" he asked. "When someone's having a seizure, aren't you supposed to put something in their mouth so they don't bite their tongue off?"

"No!" Hope snapped. "You're supposed to roll them on their side! You're thinking of amputation!"

Sam immediately threw the stick aside, rolling Cassia over.

"Is she...?" Jewel began.

"She'll be okay. She's had far worse than this," Clove looked over her sister sadly. "I'm such an idiot. If I hadn't cut Rough and Tumble loose and let them get away…!"

"Seriously, why the hell would you do that?!" Sam demanded. "You could've just turned them in and-"

"The plan was to knock you all out and make it look like they were the ones who swiped the gem!" Clove snapped. "How was I supposed to know they'd get gear like that?!"

"Speaking of, what the hell were those things?!" Sam shouted.

"Power Gems," Jewel explained. "Specifically, a Force Garnet and a Flash Amethyst. They're fairly common, but they're extremely powerful."

"They have the ability to absorb and project energy," Hope added. "Force Garnets absorb kinetic energy, while Flash Amethysts absorb light. GUN uses them in their battle armor and beam weapons."

"Then how did these guys get them?!" Sam demanded. "Much less know how to use them?!"

"That doesn't matter," Clove insisted. "Right now, we need to figure out a way to stop them."

"Right," Sam nodded. "Any ideas, Hope?"

Hope thought for a minute, then perked, remembering all the times the others called her out for overworking herself.

"I've got an idea," she declared, right before a pained scream cut through the air. "What the?!"

The others looked to find Shadow and the others lying on the ground beaten, Rough laughing maniacally.

"These things are awesome!" he declared. "We just beat the freakin' Ultimate Life-Form!"

"Yeah!" Tumble agreed before getting an idea. "Hey Rough! After this we're done with Hoodsey, let's go hit up Everhold and bust everyone out!"

"Hmmm…" Rough smirked. "That's not a bad idea, bro. Hell, with these babies and that warping stone, we could bring Mobius to its knees! Even Eggman wouldn't wanna mess with us!"

At that moment, a gunshot sounded, grazing Tumble's left arm. He hissed in pain, the two turning to see Hope aiming a smoking pistol at them.

"The only place you two are going is Prison Island!" she declared.

"You…" Rough hissed. "You should've run when you had the chance, brat!"

"Okay, we got their attention, Hope," said Sam. "Now what the hell was step two?!"

"I'm thinking…"

"Lights out, kid!"

Rough fired a laser, forcing them to dodge.

"Think faster!" Sam shouted.

Hope grabbed Sam's arm, ducking behind a stalagmite.

"Okay, I've got a plan," she said. "Their Power Gems absorb and redirect energy. They're like batteries. So what happens when you overcharge a battery?"

Sam perked. "It explodes… perfect!"

"Exactly," Hope nodded. "We just need to keep these meat heads busy."

A furious roar sounded, before Tumble leapt at them. They dodged, causing him to pound the ground, leaving a massive crater.

"You little…" Tumble growled.

"Paratonnerre!"

Clove came running in, swinging with her scythe, only for the Force Garnet to absorb the force of the blow.

"Nice try, reaper skank!" Tumble roared before punching her into the wall.

Clove bounced back with ease, swinging with reckless abandon. Tumble just laughed.

"Slice and dice all ya want! Long as I got this baby, you can't touch me!"

"Then how about I take a shot?!" Hope drew her gun, firing. The Force Garnet glowed, absorbing the impact of each bullet until Hope's pistol dry-clicked.

"I just said that ain't gonna work, Debbie!"

"My name is HOPE!" Hope shot back as she ejected the empty ammo clip, loading another one. As she prepared to fire, she saw a flash. Rough was preparing to fire a laser at her.

"Lights out!" he declared, but before he could fire, he was shot in the side, shouting in pain.

"Rough!" Tumble screamed.

"What in the...?" Clove let out.

"Back off, Maurice La Moche…"

They turned to see Cass standing, smoking tonfa gun in her hand. She looked a little tired, but ready to fight.

"Cassia!" Hope cried happily.

"Sis…" Clove let out.

Cassia smiled. "Miss me?"

"Only a whole lot!" Hope declared.

"Why, you…!" Rough prepared to fire, only for Clove to take a slash at him.

"Don't touch her!" she roared, clashing with him violently. Tumble turned to Hope and Sam.

"Looks like it's you and me, kids," Tumble mused, smirking.

"Yep," Sam agreed. "And honestly, there's something I've been wanting to do for a while now."

He drew a small handgun from his belt and fired, the bullet bouncing off Tumble harmlessly. Hope and Sam kept firing at Tumble, the skunk just slowly advancing toward them, the shots not even fazing him.

"Hope…!" Sam let out.

"Just keep shooting!" Hope insisted.

"I'm out!"

As Tumble just kept coming, Sam did the first thing that came to mind. He reeled back before throwing his empty gun at the skunk with all his might, nailing him directly in the forehead only to bounce off. With that, he yanked off his jacket, charging at him.

"Sam, wait!" Hope screamed, but it was too late. Sam landed numerous punches and kicks, which did nothing. Tumble just scoffed, grabbing him.

"Okay, if the guns weren't gonna work, why would that kung fu shit?" Tumble asked.

Sam scoffed. "Tell me something, stinky. You ever been in a bar fight?"

"Yeah, but what does that have to do with-" Tumble was cut off as Sam rammed his kneecap into Tumble's groin with all his might. He just blinked before grabbing his leg.

"Get it through your head, squirt! I'm f***ing invincible!"

"Chitty-chitty chat-chat. Chit. Chat," Sam retorted mockingly, doing the talking hand gesture as he did. "My God, do you ever shut up?"

"I'll be the one who'll shut you up!"

Tumble was about to use the kinetic impact on Sam when his gem started flashing and his glove started smoking and sparking.

"What the-?!"

"Time for a science lesson!" Hope declared. "What happens when you put too much energy into a finite container?"

"What the hell did you do?!" Tumble demanded as the sparking got worse.

"You fell for it hook, line, and sinker, Stumpy!" Sam bragged. "Last-ditch-beat-the-villain-gambit number seven: Give him more power than he can handle!"

"Who are callin' Stumpy, you...!" That was when Tumble noticed the glove was about to go critical. "Shit!"

Sam immediately tackled Hope to the ground, shielding her as it exploded, sending gravel and gem shards flying everywhere as Tumble roared in agony.

"TUMBLE!" Rough screamed.

The dust cleared, revealing a discombobulated, but alive and surprisingly intact Tumble, groaning. Rough scowled.

"You little bastards!" he shouted. "You'll pay for this!"

Clove swung her scythe at him.

"I'd worry about yourself, if I were you. Or else, you're going to join him."

Rough looked down to see his gem and glove were reacting the same way.

"What?! When did you-?!"

"My scythe, Paratonnerre, is a highly advanced tech-weapon with a powerful laser cutter for a blade," Clove explained. "And lasers...are made of light."

"Oh, hell!" Rough yanked off the glove, chucking it just as it exploded. "Whew… close one."

He turned to see Clove readying to attack again, and promptly ran over to his fallen brother.

"Tumble, get up! We gotta get outta here, now!"

"Wha…" Tumble groaned. "But I don't wanna go ta school…"

"Leaving so soon?" Cass asked.

They turned to see Clove and Cass facing them, weapons drawn.

"It's over, boys," said Clove. "If you have any brains at all, you'll give up and come quietly."

"Like hell!" Rough shouted. "We're the Unstoppable Skunk Bros.! We don't give up and we don't surrender!"

"Yeah!" Tumble added, regaining his senses. "'specially not to green, tail-slicin', deer bitches like you two!"

Clove sighed. "I tried." she turned to Hope. "We'll take it from here."

Hope just nodded.

"Cass!" Clove declared.

"Double Tap?" Cass asked, grinning.

"Double Tap!"

"Double what?" Rough asked.

"First, I do this...!" In almost the blink of an eye, Clove dashed forward at high speed. Rough and Tumble blinked before sparking with magenta light and collapsing.

"Then I do this!" Cassia zipped forward, imitating Clove's attack and dropping the skunks to the ground.

"And then the both of us… do this!" they both declared in unison before nailing the two with all their might.

"The tables have turned!" Cass declared.

"They've certainly bumbled." Clove added.

"It's all over for Rough and Tumble!" both concluded.

"Ugh, no fair!" Rough muttered.

"That's our gimmick!" Tumble complained before they passed out, the Pronghorn sisters sharing a high five.

"We did it, Clove!" Cassia exclaimed.

"Yeah… we did," Clove frowned. "Cass, I…"

Cass suddenly hugged her sister.

"Don't," the younger pronghorn said. "You don't have to apologize, Clove. I understand why you did it." She glared. "It was stupid as hell..." her expression softened, "but I get it. Besides, I'm not the one you need to apologize to."

She pointed to Hope.

Clove nodded, approaching Hope at that.

"Hope… words can't even begin to describe how sorry I am," she began. "I nearly got all of us killed."

"You did…" Hope remarked. "But you made the right choice in the end. And frankly... you helped me to realize just how badly I've been spiraling."

Clove took that in as Hope went on.

"I've been in your shoes, Clove. The past week, I've been so focused on my mission as a Freedom Fighter that I lost sight of what was important to me. My friends, my family, my health and education. With everything going on, I thought that none of that mattered. But I was wrong. When things are going badly...that's when we need those little things the most. Otherwise...well, we just lived it."

"Well said…" Everyone turned to see Shadow and the others coming too.

"Shadow!" Hope cried.

"Sorry we couldn't help you earlier, those skunks were tougher than we..." Shadow was cut off when Hope tackled him.

"Thank Aurora you're alright..." She pulled back, tears in her eyes. "I'm sorry... for putting you through the wringer the past week. For everything. I've been a jerk to you and everyone else. I didn't mean it, but it doesn't change the fact that I was."

"Hey, you're still a kid," Shadow soothed. "You're still learning and growing. Just let this be a lesson to you. Alright?"

"Alright…" Hope nodded, hugging him tightly. "I love you… Dad."

Shadow blinked in surprise, before returning the hug. "I love you too, Hope."

"Awww…" Cass let out.

"U-um…" they turned to see Jewel peeking out from behind a stone. "I-Is it over? C-Can I come out now?"

"Yeah Jewel, it's over," Hope assured. "Let's go home."