© Beloved Doll
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Sorry, change in plans suddenly here. I apologize if some info doesn`t quite line with the previous chapters but I just found out some things about the Arc life which is causing me to make some changes. Hopefully this decision is for the best and will make the story more interesting for you to read.
Maria finds herself waking up in her bed in her room. Sleepily having her eyes half open, she tries to think back to what happened earlier. Did she fall asleep in the plant room? She must have...Last she remembers is that she was thinking about Shadow while sitting under the tree.
Now that`s settled, Maria quickly realizes soon afterwards that today must be a bad day for her. She`s feeling sick. More so than what she usually does. Her head feels quite warm and she feels heavy fatigue along with being a little sore. But there`s one other thing she feels. It feels like something is on top of her.
Looking down at the length of herself, she finds that Shadow is resting on her, much like how he had done before. His head laying on top of her waist and a hand resting on Maria beside his head. And like last time, he has his shoes dangling over the edge of the bed, seeming to be respectful in that manner. It looks like he is still asleep. Was he the one who brought her to her room and tucked her into bed? A smile forms on Maria`s face; of course he was the one, who else could it have been?
Maria slowly pulls her arm out from under the blankets and reaches towards Shadow. Her fingertips lightly and carefully touch his black hair. Moving her hand more forward, Maria`s fingers slowly weave through the strands of Shadow`s hair, giving his hair a bit of a stroking. She continues to move carefully as she does so.
But a little into this, Shadow begins to move. He lifts his head just a little and turns it around so that he could look to Maria`s face. When he moves, Maria stops stroking his hair and lays her arm back down beside herself on the mattress. To a normal person, Shadow`s expression is that of what will be known as his famous emotionless expression. For the most part it is. But Maria can see something different with him. It`s mostly in the eyes but she sees it. Is it concern...?
The answer is verified with Shadow quietly asking,"What`s wrong, Maria?"
He can tell that there is something amiss about her, something isn`t settling right the way it should be. Understandable that he wouldn`t know about it as no one has explained it to him. Just like how she has taught him other things, Maria is more than happy to educate Shadow of her condition. She gives Shadow a soft, gentle smile and answers his question,"...I`m sick, Shadow..."
Shadow begins to lift himself off from Maria, now using his arms to support himself up,"Shall I get a doctor to come see you?"
Maria slowly shakes her head, not loosing her smile,"This is a different kind of sickness. See...I was born with something called NIDS, Neuro-Immunodeficency Syndrome. It makes me sick often because it keeps my immune system from working properly and it also makes it take longer for me to recover from being sick. And, it also eats up my muscle tissues where sometimes it`s hard for me to do things...And it`s incurable."
Shadow closes his mouth with a serious expression crossing his face at hearing this. Why? Why does Maria have such a devastating disease? She is so kind to everyone, she doesn`t deserve to be hit with this. What could have possibly done to receive such a long-term punishment? Surely there is a way to help her?
Maria continues,"This is just one of those days where I get sick..."
Maria lets her head settle into the pillow and she exhales deeply,"I`m afraid I won`t be able to get out of bed today and have fun with you...I don`t have the strength to get up..."
Shadow begins to get himself off the bed,"I will get you breakfast-"
Maria`s hand lightly grasps the sleeve of Shadow`s jacket,"Mm, no, that`s all right. I`m not hungry right now. Maybe later..."
Shadow looks at Maria for a moment in silence and then settles back down on the bed as he was before,"All right..."
Shadow remains with Maria on her bed for as long as he can, which isn`t for long enough. An announcement comes over the Arc`s PA system that calls for Shadow to come to the training room. He doesn`t want to go and leave Maria to herself in the condition she`s in. On the other hand, Maria knows that his training is important for him. She tries to encourage him to go to his training and that she will still stay here and rest. Shadow gives in and decides to answer the call though not without hesitation. He climbs off the bed and gets to his feet.
But before he leaves Maria, Shadow leans over to Maria. His arms wrap around her, pulling her to a sitting up position and he hugs her. Maria happily returns the hug to Shadow, hugging him around his neck. Then Shadow tightens his hug a little on the small girl and promises her that he will come straight back here when the training is over. Finally, Shadow releases Maria and assists her in laying back down in her bed. When she is set, Shadow leaves her room and goes to the training room as requested.
A ship approaches the Arc and it finds an opening where it can land and deposit it`s passengers and cargo on the Arc. The people arriving on the Arc today are the Tower family, including their son Abraham. (For those who don`t know, Abraham Tower is the name of the GUN Commander [from Shadow the Hedgehog] that the Archie Comics gave the guy.) Abraham is just a year older than Maria at 15 years. The family usually lives on the Arc, working for Gerald on the many projects. But they had taken a vacation leave to Earth last year. Now they are returning and will be getting back to work in a couple of days.
First thing`s first. They will be bringing their belongings to their "apartment" in the sleeping quarters and will rest after having such a long trip. Next on the agenda for them is to put their items away to their proper places and then re-acquaint themselves with the layout of the Arc while meeting up with Gerald for a re-union. It will be a busy next couple of days for the Tower family.
In addition to their own personal belongings they have brought with them, the Tower family have also have brought many other items with them. Most are supplies that Gerald asked them to bring, which would be things like food, medicine, mechanical parts and such. There are some more trivial things, such as gifts, that the Tower family plans on giving to particular people on the Arc that they have good relations with.
The following day, several of the Arc employees are bringing the supplies to the various places on the Arc where the supplies would be the most beneficial, such as the food being brought to the cafeteria and the medicine to the medical sector. Elsewhere, the Tower family are meeting up with Gerald at his office. In all actuality, Abraham would rather be somewhere else than be around the talking adults. But he shows great discipline with his parents and displays manners to the old professor, accompany the group of them with their reminder tour of the Arc and participating in their conversations.
Since everyone is busy with getting the supplies set, Shadow doesn`t have to leave for training today. He`s happy about this as it means he could spend the day with Maria with no interruption. She is still sick today but it seems like she is a little better than yesterday. Shadow is skating off to her room with her package of food that was prepared for her earlier by one of the chefs in the cafeteria. They know of Maria`s strict diet and do their best to stick with the plan. Shadow is being careful to not drop the food or let it get tossed around. He ignores the fact that his creator, Gerald, is in the cafeteria with the Tower family; other more important plans are on his mind.
As Shadow appears nothing more than a black streak darting through the cafeteria and into the sleeping quarters, Mr Tower can`t help but question Gerald as to what that was. Gerald puts his hands behind his back, smiles and proudly answers,"That would be Project Shadow."
Abraham turns away from looking to the sleeping quarters to looking to the aged professor,"Project Shadow, huh?"