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Ultimate Life Form theory crosspost


Ivo-goji

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Crossposting one of my old treatise from CI, which may be of interest to the community here.

Originally posted on Chao Island forums, March 29, 2018

The search for the true Ultimate Life Form part 1: Will the real Shadow the Hedgehog please stand up?

In an older thread we discussed Rouge's theory about Shadow's identity:

"Now, it is not known if the hedgehog "Shadow the Hedgehog", being the "Shadow" that was sealed away in Prison Island, was a copy created by someone else, or was the original "Shadow" that was ejected toward the planet. (There is no real way to confirm this anywhere…)
~ A partial excerpt from the last investigative report by Rouge, about Project Shadow ~"
The page Rouge was holding had a picture of the Biolizard, which the text identifies by name as Shadow.  
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She believed the Biolizard was the real Shadow (she knew there was 'a prototype', but not that this specifically was the prototype, or that it was still on the ARK at this point), and Edgehog was a fake created on Prison Island.  Recall Eggman at the start of the game searching for a weapon he believed was created there.

In the following dialogue Shadow protests that he's the real deal because he remembers being created on the ARK.  Rouge counters that his memories might be fake- and since he remembers Maria asking him to avenge her, which we know didn't happen, there's some truth to this.  Gerald's diary said "I made his mind to be perfect... pure..."

Shadow later recovers his memory of promising Maria to give the world a chance to be happy and fights the Biolizard, revealed to only be the sealed prototype and not the completed Ultimate Lifeform.

We never actually find out if Rouge is wrong or not.  Our only sources of information come from Shadow (memory tampered), Gerald (insane), and Black Doom (consummate liar), none of whom should be considered reliable.  The Biolizard being a prototype doesn't prove that Shadow was born on the ARK; Shadow's "true" memories could have been implanted as well; consider his later amnesia.

From this ambiguity arose the common fan theory that the original Shadow is Sonic himself.

Now, media outside of the games leaves no doubt that Shadow is the real Shadow and not Sonic.  That's pretty clearly what SEGA thinks about the character at present.  In Sonic Next Gen they had Shadow moving beyond questions about his identity and his past, instead focusing on his future.

But taking Sonic Adventure 2 in isolation and ignoring later story developments, Shadow's original appearance seemed to keep things ambiguous up to the very end.

"Do you really think that the Professor created him, Shadow, to carry out his revenge...?"

Here Rouge continues to voice doubts about Shadow's memories of being created aboard the ARK.  After all, if she was sure Shadow was the true Ultimate Life Form, designed to save Gerald's granddaughter from NIDS, she wouldn't have said he was created for revenge.  Sonic doesn't help by answering to the effect that it didn't matter where Shadow came from.  Then there's that little bit where Sonic talks to himself ("Could he have been... the Ultimate Life Form?") just before Amy asks if he's okay...

It's all very suggestive, isn't it?

What I'm driving at here is the possibility that -when SA2 was made- Sonic was intended to be the real Ultimate Life Form created on the Space Colony ARK, and Shadow was a copy of him made on Prison Island.  The subplot about Shadow's memories being fake was meant to hint that Sonic himself had been subject to alterations that made him forget about his ties to the ARK.  Their interactions throughout the game were subtly implying it was more than a mere coincidence that they looked so similar.  It all takes on a very different meaning when you mull over Rouge's theory.
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The idea wasn't so much to provide Sonic with a definitive origin story, as to add a small *implication* about his past to Sonic lore, something later games could freely ignore without issue.  Within the context of SA2 as a self-contained narrative, it would offer a plausible explanation for why Sonic can use Chaos Control, which (at the time) was a one off ability that might never have gotten used again.  The real purpose of these details however was to emphasize the tragic nature of Shadow's character: not only was his whole life a lie, but even his promise to Maria was a lie.  We were really supposed to conclude that Shadow WASN'T who he thought he was, but as Sonic said "He was who he was, a brave and heroic hedgehog, who gave his life to save this planet..."  

It was the fact that Shadow knew on some level that his memory of Maria was fake, yet he still chose to hold on to their promise to the bitter end, that made his sacrifice one of the most heartbreaking and bittersweet moments in Sonic history.


..... until SEGA decided to throw most of that stuff out the window and bring back Shadow for more games, playing up his memory and identity issues in Sonic Heroes and Shadow the Hedgehog before revealing that he really was the Ultimate Life Form created on the Space Colony ARK.

That's my hypothesis anyway.

Of course, it's impossible for there to be any question about the Ultimate Life Form's true identity at this point.... right?

Well, -strickly speaking- there was no definitive *proof* given in Shadow the Hedgehog that Shadow was really born on the ARK or that someone else wasn't the original Shadow.  There isn't even any real proof that this Shadow was the same one we saw in SA2.  Sure, Eggman said Shadow was his grandfather's creation in the final boss fight, but why do you trust him?  Eggman isn't a reliable source of information.  He could have just said that to give Shadow encouragement.

And of course, as I pointed out above, everyone else who knows about Shadow's past is similarly unreliable.  They all had motives to deceive him.  Most of our exposition in Shadow the Hedgehog comes from Black Doom, the religious extremist, do you really trust anything he shows us?
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Shadow being immune to Doom's paralyzing toxin because of their shared DNA isn't absolute proof that Doom is telling the truth either, as that whole scene could have been orchestrated to further soften Shadow up for mind control.  It doesn't matter to Doom's over all plan whether Shadow was the real Ultimate Life Form or not, only if he was useful to conquering the Earth.  I have more to  add about the implications of Doom's involvement in Project Shadow and how this revises what we learned in previous games, but I'm going to cover that in part 2.
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Of course, there was one other person in Shadow the Hedgehog who knew something about what happened 50 years ago: the GUN Commander.  Now this is EXTREMELY important because the Commander's story ties in with information in Rouge's report:

"A voice of doubt soon arose, as they questioned their continuation on this project, as well as the safety of others aboard. The truth is uncertain, about who had leaked private information about the Project to GUN, however it was considered to have been one of the few who were concerned with the Prototype, as it became reckless.

Those who were among the top ranking of GUN, had a strong disliking of the research organization, and formulated a plan to shut down the ARK itself, taking advantage of its current situation. Their secret plan was code named, "ARK's Indestructible Seal"...

...The plan was carried out, on the premiss that GUN knew nothing, and within only seven days of the Plan's commencing, all the residents of the ARK were moved to the planet. All the research facilities aboard the ARK were frozen by GUN, and all persons involved in Project Shadow, except for Professor Gerald, were announced as victims of the disaster..."

In Shadow the Hedgehog we learn exactly who it was that leaked information to GUN and facilitated the entire raid-
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- the young Commander.

Possessing this information sheds all kinds of light on the Commander's character and his actions in Shadow the Hedgehog.  Secretly bearing responsibility for the horrible tragedy of the ARK cover up, the young boy projected his feelings of guilt onto Shadow, blaming the monster for all the deaths he'd unwittingly caused.  Motivated by a need to atone for these things, the boy eventually joined the very organization that carried out the abominable deed, climbing to the highest position until he could weed out all of GUN's corruption from the inside.  The Commander put the tragedy behind him and dedicated his life to ensuring that nothing like that would ever happen again.... And then the nightmare from his past returned, and all that hatred and guilt and fear bubbled to the surface.  The Commander HAD to destroy Shadow, otherwise it meant confronting the fact that HE was the one responsible for the raid on the Space Colony.
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Which means that there is someone to corroborate Doom's story of Shadow being created on the ARK, and that boy's role in the narrative goes all the way back to SA2 itself.

Even the Commander's eyewitness testimony isn't totally infallible however.  He's been nursing a grudge against Shadow for decades, and his animosity might have colored (hu hu hu) his memory of what the Ultimate Life Form really looked like.  He can't be classified as an unbiased source of information anymore than the others and his details are suspect.

Consider this: our friend the Commander here was also the one in charge of GUN in SA2.  He was the secret hand behind the faceless military organization hounding Sonic and his friends throughout the game.  When Shadow was freed from Prison Island, it was the Commander that sent troops out to retrieve him.  It was the Commander that chose to arrest Sonic the Hedgehog in Shadow's place.  It was the Commander no doubt who had Sonic finally incarcerated... in. Gerald's. own. cell.
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The first time any of us played the game of course it all seemed like a silly joke.  GUN sees two hedgehogs and can't tell them apart, arrests the wrong one.  Hoho, haha.  Then thinking about it, it seemed like an attempt to keep Shadow's existence a secret, eliminating him while passing off his crimes as being commited by Sonic.  But looking at Rouge's report, all of the little coincidences piling up in the game, and knowing in hindsight (but what should have been obvious all along) that GUN's leadership possessed the one bit of information that cracked the whole puzzle, this whole situation looks very different...

SEGA certainly made up its mind a long, long time ago that Shadow was "the one and only Ultimate Life Form", but I strongly suspect that this was not initially the case, and there are plot threads running through the entire Shadow saga that point back to an alternative SEGA seemed to have once had on the table.  By itself, the theory I've outlined above based on SA2 might not sound that convincing... but there's one more piece of evidence to consider, a connection that if true busts the whole history of the Sonic mythos wide open.  This evidence I'll examine in part 2.

Originally posted on Chao Island forums, March 31, 2018

The search for the true Ultimate Life Form part 2: The secret history of the Sonic universe

Sonic Battle was released about 26 days ahead of Sonic Heroes, and was thus Shadow's true return to the Sonic series following SA2.  Chronologically it was meant to take place after Sonic Heroes, which featured Shadow's proper reintroduction to the cast after his apparent death (as well as the proper introduction of Omega, who is mentioned briefly in Sonic Battle).  However, there was a major discrepancy between the two games' depictions of Shadow: namely, in Sonic Heroes, Shadow has amnesia, but in Sonic Battle he does not.

In Shadow the Hedgehog he went on to regain his memories, and finally learned everything about his past.  But that game came out years after Sonic Battle- did the older game anticipate the whole plot of Shadow the Hedgehog?

Or, as I theorized in part 1, did SEGA have a change of plans about Shadow's identity between the release of SA2 and Sonic Heroes?  Does Sonic Battle hold the key to determining when this change took place?

I believe it does.

The theory is, the Ultimate Life Form that was created for Gerald's medical research on the ARK was lost after Maria ejected it to Earth; our Shadow is a weapon created for the military on Prison Island, a copy of the original "Shadow".  If our Shadow were the original, we would expect characters to acknowledge his real purpose, rather than mistakenly think he was created for revenge and destruction. Yet in Sonic Battle, Shadow considers himself a weapon, and is motivated to destroy the fighting robot Emerl because he views it as a weapon like him.

Sonic: But what about you?!  You say he's the ultimate weapon, but weren't you supposed to be the military's ultimate secret weapon?!  Maybe you've forgotten, but I seem to recall you saving humanity at some point.
Shadow: [grunt] ... That was for Maria.
Sonic:  Exactly!  If you have a heart, there's no way you'd use your power for the forces of evil!  Weapons aren't supposed to have "hearts", but both you and Emerl do.  You guys... you aren't just weapons!
Shadow:  Hmph!  No, you are wrong, we were created as weapons.  If the people of this world ever want peace, they must destroy us.

This dialogue echoes the final scene of SA2, where Rouge wonders if Shadow was only created to fulfill Gerald's mission of revenge, and Sonic assures her it that it was Shadow's heroic choices that made him who he really was.

But the whole debate turns on Shadow being created after GUN seized control of the Ultimate Life Form project, which agrees with Rouge's theory but contradicts what would later be established in Shadow the Hedgehog.

Shadow's character arc in Sonic Battle doesn't mesh with how things were resolved in the Gamecube titles.  At the end of Shadow the Hedgehog, Shadow comes to terms with his identity and puts his past behind him for good; in Sonic Battle he is borderline suicidal, believing he is a weapon whose only purpose is destruction.  His story in Battle concerns his search for a "soul", for proof that he really is more than an artificial being.

Remember, if Shadow really was created on Prison Island, then all of his memories of Maria are fake.  Sonic Battle seems to confirm this, as Shadow's story opens with him seeing visions of the ARK once again, and dismissing them as "another illusion".  Shadow can't make peace with himself knowing that he's a creature programmed to destroy humanity.  It's only after he discovers that Gerald gave him and Emerl "hearts", free-will, emotions-based AIs, modeled on Maria's own compassionate heart that Shadow realizes that he's more than just a weapon.

This effectively answers the problem of his false memories, as even if Shadow never met the real Maria, she's still a real part of him.  "Maria will always be with me" he says.

But if Sonic Battle confirms that SA2's Shadow is the second one, who is the first "Shadow" Gerald created?

In fact, Rouge calls Emerl the Ultimate Life Form, and the Professor indeed worked on him before he created Shadow, but obviously he can't be the Ultimate Life Form we're looking for because he was created by the Echidnas three or four thousand years ago.

'
Prof. Gerald's Journal 1

I found a most interesting specimen
from the warehouse. I believe it is
some sort of puppet or robot made by
an ancient people. At first, I didn't
think anything of it, but when I was
experimenting on "Chaos Emeralds," it
began to move. This suggests the
possibility that even the ancient
civilizations could harness the power
of the "Chaos Emeralds."
When I was researching various papers
related to the "Chaos Emeralds" and
this robot, I discovered that there
was a possibility that this robot was
something incredible. I don't want
to get ahead of myself, but this robot
may be the cause of the destruction of
the Fourth Great Civilization. I'm not
sure I believe it just yet, though.
Prof. Gerald's Journal 2


I am no longer able ignore the
possibility that this robot did in fact
destroy the Fourth Great Civilization.
I have discovered a stone tablet that
explains as much. According to the
tablet, "When the figure falls from
the heavens, and the Stone of the Gods
is joined, all that exists will become
one again."
'
Wait, stone tablet?

Like the one Eggman discovered that described Chaos, the God of Destruction?  It is fair to consider Sonic Battle a sequel to Sonic Adventure as much as it is to SA2; Chaos even makes a return appearance.  It is very likely the same tablet mentioned in both games.

We know of course that Prof. Robotnik studied the ancient Echidna civilizations to create much of his technology aboard the ARK.  The first journal entry quoted above probably represents the "eureka!" moment when Gerald initially realized the scientific potential of the ancients.  That would mean he was studying the Gizoid before he began work on virtually any of his other inventions.

We might ponder whether the entirety of Project Shadow was in fact inspired by Gerald's research on the Gizoid, his attempt to replicate the ancient Ultimate Being with a modern, organic Ultimate Life Form.

Now what is the Gizoid exactly?  An artificial being that gains power from the Chaos Emeralds, growing stronger after absorbing each one into its body, unleashing devastation when it absorbs all seven.

In essence, the Gizoid is an artificial Chaos, the original Artificial Chaos.  There's even something of a resemblance to Chaos 0 in the Gizoid's face.
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It can't be a coincidence that the same ancient people who were almost wiped out by Perfect Chaos before Tikal sealed him in the Master Emerald were finally destroyed when the Gizoid first went berzerk.  Did they create the Ultimate Being to imitate this other "Ultimate Life Form's" godly power?

Which raises another intriguing question: was Chaos himself the product of ancient science seeking to unlock the power of the Chaos Emeralds?  I've discussed the possibility before, that Chaos might be the Original Ultimate Life Form created by the previous Echidna civilization before Pachacamac's time, and that Chaos served as a blue print for Project Shadow.

This only supports evidence that was already present in SA2, as we see Gerald created the Artificial Chaos as stepping stones to creating the Ultimate Life Form- they even bear the Project Shadow insignia.  Even the Biolizard appears to be an attempt to imitate Perfect Chaos' reptilian features.

What does that tell us about the possible identity of the first "Shadow" Prof. Robotnik completed?

Well... look at Chaos.  Who else do we know that's green-eyed and blue all over?

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As mentioned at the beginning, if this hypothesis is correct, then Shadow's history was revamped after the release of Sonic Heroes in order to make him the one and only Shadow the Hedgehog.  This means things like the Black Comet and the actual purpose of the Eclipse Cannon were only conceived after the change took place.  It also explains why Sonic Battle's characterization was discarded; the new-old Shadow had authentic memories of knowing Maria Robotnik in person, and had no need for an artificial soul that allowed Maria to live on within him (hence this idea never being referenced again).  Black Doom's status as Shadow's biological "father" rests on Gerald needing the alien's immortal blood to complete the Ultimate Life Form; although, if we are sticking to the two-Shadows theory, there's nothing preventing Gerald from having used Doom's DNA to create the second Shadow during his confinement on Prison Island, since GUN had given him enough leeway to allow Gerald to edit Shadow's memories without them knowing.  That means it's still possible the Ultimate Life Form created on the Space Colony ARK was the final stage of the Artificial Chaos line, born without Black Arms genes.

SEGA's decision to rewrite Shadow's origin is understandable, since if he became a permanent member of the supporting cast, the ambiguity of SA2's backstory would always make the sequence of events confusing for new fans- that, and the change was carried out so subtly that almost no one noticed it had taken place.  Freeing up Sonic's own backstory so future games would never need to worry about these details was also a bonus.  SEGA always preferred to keep Sonic simple.  But damn if they didn't pull the wool over our eyes.

Originally posted on Chao Island forums, October 16, 2018

The search for the true Ultimate Life Form part 3: The Prototypes and the Black Arms
"The Chaos Drives were based on research results of the Chaos Emeralds, and the experimental attempt to apply that infinite energy to life functions was successful. Shortly thereafter, the project lead to completion of a single prototype. Focusing on its restorative ability, the Ultimate Lifeform's prototype, which was modeled after a lizard, showed signs of phenomenal growth, as well as self-recovery and self-replication."

As we all know, the Chaos Emeralds were first discovered 4000 years ago by the Knuckles Clan in the area that would one day become the Mystic Ruins, enshrined on a stone edifice protected by the entity now known as Chaos.  Chaos was a Chao that (by accident or design) had been transformed into a virtually indestructible liquid organism by the energy of the Emeralds, and he guarded his kind that nested around the shrine with fierce resolve.  When Pachacamac's warriors slaughtered the Chao, their enraged parent absorbed the energy of the Chaos Emeralds to transform into a monster and annihilate the Knuckles Clan in retaliation. The few survivors memorialized the cataclysm in a mural deep within the Lost World Temple.
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With the Knuckles Clan defeated and Chaos sealed within the Master Emerald, their rivals (who we now call the Nocturnus Clan) were able to seize the Chaos Emeralds. Desiring to harness their power, they created the Gizoid, an Ultimate Being that could absorb Chaos Emeralds just like Chaos.  This proved to be their undoing as the Gizoid became a god of wrath and layed waste to the Echidna's empire.  For this sin the Nocturnus were imprisoned in the Twilight Cage.  Those who remained behind recorded the tragic history of their race on a stone tablet as a caution to future generations.

The artefacts of the Echidnas were eventually rediscovered by Gerald Robotnik.  With the knowledge of the ancients he was capable of working miracles.  One such miracle he was asked to perform was to destroy death itself.  To do this he turned to the Chaos Emeralds.  From the Knuckles Clan he knew that Chao could be altered by Chaos Energy to become completely immortal beings; from the Fourth Great Civilization he learned that an artificial being could fully control the infinite power of the Emeralds.

Understanding this, Gerald's Project Shadow took on two parallel and related lines of research.

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The juvenile Biolizard seen in Sonic X.

The very first prototype was modeled on a lizard.  Lizards are known for being able to regrow their tales and some species can reproduce via parthenogenesis.  In this way they approached the self-regenerating abilities of the Chao, who can avoid death by reincarnating as newborn eggs.

Initially the prototype Shadow, or Biolizard, seemed promising.  However, its regenerative abilities caused it to grow to uncontrollable size, and it's Chaos Energy based biology was impossible to sustain without a life support system.  Its offspring were unviable as each would require it's own life support; the unhatched eggs accumulated as waste.  It's unruly behavior became increasingly distressing to the research staff.

While the first prototype continued to be a source of concern, work began on a second phase of prototypes.  These would attempt to follow in the Gizoid's footsteps as machines that could imitate the abilities of the great Chaos himself.  This model would adhere most closely to the physical characteristics of Chaos 0.
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Mechanical brains with bodies of liquid, the Artificial Chaos were able to mimic the shapeshifting powers of the original Chaos to a limited degree, some even dividing into remotely controlled cells.  Whereas their sister the Biolizard was dependent on a constant drip of Chaos Energy to stay alive, each Artificial Chaos ran on a single Chaos Drive practically indefinitely. 

Despite these positive results, the Artificial Chaos were also inadequate. Their dissimilarity to flesh and blood creatures made their value to Project Shadow's medical directives questionable, and like the other prototype they began to grow uncontrollable as time went on, as we later saw in Lost Impact.

However the prototypes had served their purpose by the time Gerald moved on to the third and final phase of Project Shadow.  It is possible he arrived at this model while studying the Master Emerald Shrine- which we know he must have done to create the replica in Cannon's Core- where he would have stumbled across the prophecy depicting a golden warrior wielding the power of the Emeralds.  Can it be that seeing this image of an ideal vessel for the infinite energy of the Chaos Emeralds spurred Robotnik to fulfill the prophecy himself?
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The Adventure games' attention to detail was meticulous enough that I have no problem believing they would have thought of this.  There are literally dozens of tiny story references to S3&K in those two games.  The mural from Hidden Palace no doubt inspired the Lost World mural from SA and the countless hieroglyphic textures in the Pyramid themed stages from SA2.

The real question is how the hints pointing towards Sonic being the Ultimate Life Form square with post-Sonic Heroes continuity making Shadow the one lone Shadow.

We know for example that Shadow was originally absent from Sonic Heroes because he was still dead, so it isn't a stretch to conclude the story we got in Heroes/Shadow the Hedgehog is a retcon of what was developed in SA2/Sonic Battle.  How much of a retcon it actually is remains an open question though. I pointed out that most of the characters who exposit about Shadow's past are unreliable, so what we think of as the facts are more flexible if we keep in mind that flashbacks might be inaccurate or deliberately deceptive. In the light the post-Sonic Heroes games aren't necessarily incompatible with the Shadow Saga's original intent.

Still, how much of Shadow's past is anticipated in SA2, and how much was made up later?  Were the Black Arms always part of the plan for example?

Earlier Sable posted a screenshot showing background text in SA2 that appears to allude to the Black Arms. In support of this, consider that Eclipse Cannon's purpose isn't explained properly until Shadow the Hedgehog, where it turns out to was intended to destroy the Black Comet.  If we ignore the Comet's existence how do we account for the Eclipse Cannon?  There are other small details, like the similarity between the Biolizard's appearance and the Black Arms' thorny black and crimson hide.
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This prompts us to consider that the Biolizard may have been produced from splicing Black Doom's DNA with that of the test subject lizard.  If so we'd also have to conclude that Doom wasn't lying when he said Shadow shared his blood.  We know Sonic doesn't have Black Arms genes because he was effected by the paralyzing gas.  That doesn't rule out the possibility that Sonic is the real Ultimate Life Form, since the second line of Project Shadow- Artificial Chaos- does have certain features in common with Sonic.  The two pedigrees of Project Shadow prototypes are distinctive enough that it isn't hard to imagine they both produced a separate Ultimate Life Form.

We know the original Shadow was created for peaceful purposes before Robotnik went mad, and the thing created on Prison Island was an instrument of vengeance. It makes sense that the one who was supposed to gift immortality to the world was free of Black Doom's influence, while the living weapon designed to destroy the world would be born from humanity's nemesis.  It suited Gerald's agenda: even if no one took the bait presented in the diary, Black Doom was certain to seek out "his" Shadow and allow the Emeralds to be gathered into the Eclipse Cannon, guaranteeing the alien's death as well as mankind's.

Another possibility besides Shadow being created on Prison Island is that he and Sonic were both completed on the ARK at the same time.

In Sonic X Maria actually jettisoned two capsules to Earth.
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In the anime it doesn't make much sense, given that Sonic lives in another dimension, but the implication seems to be that Sonic was also the Ultimate Life Form in that continuity.  Sonic X was released before Heroes and doesn't reflect the alterations that game made to the Shadow narrative. In the games we never see the ARK raid from any other perspective besides Shadow's, and his memories are tampered.  It's not impossible that what really happened 50 years ago is much like the recollection the soldier gives in Sonic X.

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Very well done. This is a theory I have had for a very long time. It was surprising for me to say the least to have someone lay the whole thing out completely independently from me haha. One thing I think you forgot to mention was that in the Final Hazard boss there is a line spoken during gameplay where Shadow tells Sonic that he believes he is the true Ultimate life form. I think a lot of people don't know about this line because it is only spoken very late into the battle after most people already would have defeated the boss or lost all their rings. Another requirement is that the player has to be using Sonic and not Shadow when the timestamp hits so even if you make it to the correct time there is only a fifty percent chance it will be activated depending on which character you are currently using. I have only seen it happen a few times and I have played SA2 quite a lot but here is a link on youtube of someone reacting to it:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=egDlOgo1UIA

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There's supporting information I didn't know about when I composed the above posts, like a statement Shiro Maekawa made on twitter a long time ago saying that it was intended to be ambiguous whether Sonic was the Ultimate Life Form or not.

 

We also know from Speeps' discoveries that SA2 contains unused dialogue that found it's way into Sonic X, confirming that the anime preserved details from SA2's early production materials that are missing from the final game.

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@Ivo-goji

" Well, -strickly speaking- there was no definitive *proof* given in Shadow the Hedgehog that Shadow was really born on the ARK or that someone else wasn't the original Shadow.   "

 

 

However speculation is all fun and I would like to chime in, Shadow's game acts as a giant retcon for....a lot of things. I think you are looking too far back and I think you need to look forward. I think while it never actually happens in 06 ,  there's a story beat that if you look at it a different way. Basically explains the plot of every single shadow related story beat before it , and I think that was the intent due to some visual design things. But was never implemented. I can go further if you like, not trying to burdern you with much

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52 minutes ago, Shadowlax said:

 

However speculation is all fun and I would like to chime in, Shadow's game acts as a giant retcon for....a lot of things.

I don't think ShtH itself retcons anything; as I discussed in the preceding posts, many of the characters and story elements in Shadow the Hedgehog are anticipated earlier on, like the Commander, and seemingly the Black Arms:

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Observe the text on the floor near Shadow's coffin.

And even after ShtH, the information that's presented to the viewer in-universe is subject to interpretation; all of our witnesses for Shadow's past are either consummate deceivers or people who have been wrong before.  And we can hardly go to SEGA for a unanimous voice on the subject, since the Sonic Heroes production team was split down the middle over the question of whether SA2's Shadow was dead or not.

52 minutes ago, Shadowlax said:

I think while it never actually happens in 06 ,  there's a story beat that if you look at it a different way.

The main thing I've taken away from 06 with regard to Shadow's identity is that the writers were still willing to play around with it even after apparently resolving everything in the previous games.

Some points to contemplate: in the early concept designs (when he was called Venice), and even in his final design, Silver is clearly intended to have some connection to the Soleanna royal family.  In the completed game of course he has nothing to do with Soleanna at all, it isn't even clear if Crisis City is located there or not.  Yet when Elise sees Sonic for the first time she has a vision of Silver, as if he had some great personal consequence for her- presumably because she faintly remembers their encounter ten years in the past when he traveled through time.  Except the weight of that cutscene and the actual story behind the moment are grossly incongruous with each other.  Shadow and Silver's trip to the past is also written in an extremely odd way, as if it were cut out of a different game; the Duke seems to already know who the two of them are, without any introductions, and he has the Scepter of Darkness and the White Chaos Emerald for no reason.  And the Duke knows how to use Chaos Control!

Things make substantialy more sense if we assume that originally, Silver is from the past rather than the future, Project Solaris was an attempt in part to revive the research of Project Shadow, and- the elephant in the room- Silver is so much like Sonic and Shadow because he too is another copy of the Ultimate Life Form.  The story we got in the final game is a patch job designed to preserve most of the same plot points while dispensing with Silver's connection to the other two hedgehogs.  That's why Silver's future had nothing firmly established about it in 06 and has never been explored in any subsequent game; it was a relatively late decision to make him a resident of the far future, without any details worked out in the writers' minds for what it was supposed to be like.  Most of the story of 06 is focused on developing the history of Soleanna, because that's the context Silver was originally supposed to be established in.

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3 hours ago, Ivo-goji said:

I don't think ShtH itself retcons anything; as I discussed in the preceding posts, many of the characters and story elements in Shadow the Hedgehog are anticipated earlier on, like the Commander, and seemingly the Black Arms:

 

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Observe the text on the floor near Shadow's coffin.

It does though. While there might be text, at the end of the day with black dooms introduction it basically retcons entire sections of sa2 that were unclear or  were different. And previous theories. This is ontop of changing the context of shadow's character in its entirety and at the end of the game moving him away from gerald and maria. Yes there may have been some intent, but how each game executes each thing is different.

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And even after ShtH, the information that's presented to the viewer in-universe is subject to interpretation; all of our witnesses for Shadow's past are either consummate deceivers or people who have been wrong before. 

At one point maybe , not so much anymore.

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And we can hardly go to SEGA for a unanimous voice on the subject, since the Sonic Heroes production team was split down the middle over the question of whether SA2's Shadow was dead or not.

I mean to be real. You can, because its whatever they say. They could say shadow is a literal taco tomorrow, make him a taco and that's it. Anyone who might have differing opinions on the matter no longer work at sega so. You could just ask iizuka if you ever got the chance , but I get the feeling it wouldn't be the answer you wanted.

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The main thing I've taken away from 06 with regard to Shadow's identity is that the writers were still willing to play around with it even after apparently resolving everything in the previous games.

 

Quote

Some points to contemplate: in the early concept designs (when he was called Venice), and even in his final design, Silver is clearly intended to have some connection to the Soleanna royal family.  In the completed game of course he has nothing to do with Soleanna at all, it isn't even clear if Crisis City is located there or not.  Yet when Elise sees Sonic for the first time she has a vision of Silver, as if he had some great personal consequence for her- presumably because she faintly remembers their encounter ten years in the past when he traveled through time.  Except the weight of that cutscene and the actual story behind the moment are grossly incongruous with each other.  Shadow and Silver's trip to the past is also written in an extremely odd way, as if it were cut out of a different game; the Duke seems to already know who the two of them are, without any introductions, and he has the Scepter of Darkness and the White Chaos Emerald for no reason.  And the Duke knows how to use Chaos Control!

Things make substantialy more sense if we assume that originally, Silver is from the past rather than the future, Project Solaris was an attempt in part to revive the research of Project Shadow, and- the elephant in the room- Silver is so much like Sonic and Shadow because he too is another copy of the Ultimate Life Form.  The story we got in the final game is a patch job designed to preserve most of the same plot points while dispensing with Silver's connection to the other two hedgehogs.  That's why Silver's future had nothing firmly established about it in 06 and has never been explored in any subsequent game; it was a relatively late decision to make him a resident of the far future, without any details worked out in the writers' minds for what it was supposed to be like.  Most of the story of 06 is focused on developing the history of Soleanna, because that's the context Silver was originally supposed to be established in.

Not silver

Its mephilies you need to be thinking about. So the idea that there are other ultimate life forms i'm just not gonna address because sega themselves when resurrecting shadow, shut that conversation down. I don't think that's an interesting route to take in this conversation. And to be blunt it takes away the uniqueness of shadow's character, they realized that and don't even go into that direction anymore.

What I am gonna talk about is this

" Well, -strickly speaking- there was no definitive *proof* given in Shadow the Hedgehog that Shadow was really born on the ARK or that someone else wasn't the original Shadow.   "

This is the most interesting tidbit of information you have. Or rather speculative information. So think about 06 right , ok. So, you ever notice how those demons, really....really loo like black arms. And mephilies despite teaming up with a gullible kid with the powers of telekinesis, see's shadow and goes " that's who i need to look like, that's who I need on my team " you could make an argument about maybe shadow is morally ambiguous enough to get him to think there's a chance, but combined with the demon designs, I think its more to that. 

And to get into speculation, simply put. I think mephilies those demons, iblis even are ancient black arms. And if you think about it like that, it fills in a lot of plot holes in previous games regarding the character and things around shadow.

Why did GUN react so badly to gerald interacting with a comet despite hiring him to make an immortalizing living nuke. Oh yeah there are ancient legends of a black plague that comes across the planet when a meteor comes by in solenna or something that spread

Oh how do the black arms know about chaos emeralds, they were here before and got sealed

Those ruins that black doom clarify are black arms ruins in shadow the hedgehog, how did they get here, they were here before

Heck if you want to get crazy I believe black doom is also suggesting there were black arms ruins on the ship, considering that some of those ruins are litterally the M.E altar you can suggest that the echidna may have had a role in sealing them up the last time round. Or even if you want to get crazier they had a role in creating the chaos emeralds. Which would explain why shadow despite being a male hedgehog seemingly naturally just has a much large affinity for them than everyone else. You can suggest gerald had some hand in that, but given Gerald seemingly couldn't even complete a shadow with out the black arms, I don't think that's quite it

There was recently a reveal on twitter where they showed uncensored versions of the pods in shadow's game with unfinished shadows in it along with black arm mush.  If you are taking the idea that shadow may not have been born on the arc, shadow could have been an old black arm mobian hybrid that they were trying to resurrect and they used black dooms blood to stablize him so he wouldn't just die

I don't think the question is like " are there other ultimate life forms " the multiple pods are explained by geralds unfinished projects. The question is, where did shadow come from. And I think 06 at one point was gonna go about hinting that

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Interesting read.

To summarize, just to make sure I follow: You think that Sonic is True Shadow born on ARK, while Fake Shadow (our Shadow) was made on Prison Island as instrument of vengeance, with fake memories, partially connected to "Maria's heart" in Battle. And that was original intention that Sega later abandoned.

As SA2 goes, your theory is actually quite plausible. t leaves tons of unanswered questions (mostly how Sonic doesn't have even tiniest memories of ARK or something), but broad strokes are plausible. it even makes Shadow a tragic figure, constantly trying to be Ultimate Lifeform, when he's not.

But post that?

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Even the Commander's eyewitness testimony isn't totally infallible however.  He's been nursing a grudge against Shadow for decades, and his animosity might have colored (hu hu hu) his memory of what the Ultimate Life Form really looked like.  He can't be classified as an unbiased source of information anymore than the others and his details are suspect.

First of all, I don't buy that Commander somehow convinced himself that True Shadow (Sonic) was black-red. There were soldiers chasing Shadow before Maria's death. GUN should know how U-L they chasing looks like. Heck, Black Doom would know how True Shadow looks like and obviously he would go for a real thing.

Second. Why would Gerald deal with Black Doom to make Fake Shadow, if True Shadow is already existing? if Black Doom helped making Fake Shadow (seeing they have mind link and immunity to toxins), then he was dealing with sane Gerald and Maria was still alive, as seen in message found by Chaotix.

Third how can Fake Shadow be made by crazy Gerald as instrument of vengeance, but also be given Maria's heart?

 

Here's my head-canon: Sonic was normal hedgehog in Sonic 1, just pretty fast and knew how to Spin Attack (which isn't that impressive, most of his friends can do that) But by constant exposure to Power Rings, Chaos Emeralds and Special Zone, Sonic grew connection to Chas Energy, hence his speed constantly growing (homing attack, boost, etc), Chaos Control and stuff. He's the one from mural, but Gerald was inspired by it and made Shadow in his image. Now whenever that makes Sonic real Ultimate Lifeform created by accident/destiny is debatable. Shadow thought that, but it depends on what you really think that pointless-yet-cool tittle means. Sonic doesn't care, so Shadow can have it. Maybe striving to be Ultimate Life Form is what makes him one? That sounds uplifting and vaguely deep.

Also 06 implies that Shadow might be unkillable, while Sonic sure isn't. So there's that. Not that we can trust what Mephiles said, but who knows. Best lies are semi-based on truth. Personally I like to think humanity would imprison him, if Shadow joined Mephiles and help him created Silver's future. Self fulfilling prophecy, Mephiles is into that stuff.

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I like this post. It's been a good long time since I've seen this era of Sonic's lore be the main topic of discussion and it makes me happy. If nothing else here is true, it makes sense no matter who the ultimate lifeform actually is that Shadow's design was based on the mural at the Master Emerald shrine, explaining his resemblance to Sonic. It might or might not have been intentional but it's actually the best explanation there is for why Shadow, completely divorced from Sonic's existence pre-SA2 , would look just like him and have all of his abilities. It's an even cooler connection when you notice that Like Super/Hyper Sonic, Shadow's spines are curved upwards, and that the mural is of Super/Hyper Sonic (I was never clear on which, the aura is yellow but the actual image of Sonic is negative which I took to mean it was a stand in for the flashing colors of hyper).

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12 hours ago, Shadowlax said:

While there might be text, at the end of the day with black dooms introduction it basically retcons entire sections of sa2 that were unclear or  were different.

Only if you take Black Doom's words at face value.  SEGA went out their way avoid doing anything in ShtH that would tangibly contradict the narrative of SA2; they could do this because they'd anticipated the different directions Shadow's arc could go, and designed things to be ambiguous from the very beginning.

12 hours ago, Shadowlax said:

I mean to be real. You can, because its whatever they say. They could say shadow is a literal taco tomorrow, make him a taco and that's it

OG intent > a later author's web of lies

"Not silver

Its mephilies you need to be thinking about."

Au contraire, Silver and Mephiles!  For they are both clearly intended to be products of Project Solaris, which was clearly intended to harken back to Project Shadow.  It would be foolishness to acknowledge the design similarities Mephiles and Iblis share with the Black Arms and ignore the similarities Silver shares with Shadow and Sonic, which are much more pronounced and much more significant.
12 hours ago, Shadowlax said:

Why did GUN react so badly to gerald interacting with a comet despite hiring him to make an immortalizing living nuke.

Because they didn't hire him!  Gerald was enlisted by the President of the United Federation to research immortality, as discussed in Rouge's report (http://info.sonicretro.org/Sonic_Adventure_2_-_The_Truth_of_50_Years_Ago...)  GUN shut down the ARK because they distrusted the research organization- they distrusted it because they weren't in charge of it, the President was.  That's why the President of SA2's time period sent Rouge to investigate GUN's cover up of the ARK incident, because the government and GUN were on opposite sides of the conflict over who controlled Project Shadow.
 
GUN didn't conscript Gerald to create a weapon for them until after they raided the ARK, while the Professor was locked away on Prison Island.  You've conflated this event with the beginning of Project Shadow, which took place years earlier.
12 hours ago, Shadowlax said:

Those ruins that black doom clarify are black arms ruins in shadow the hedgehog, how did they get here, they were here before

Doom states Glyphic Canyon was constructed 2000 years ago.

Dr1O1kPUcAEkzkN?format=jpg

12 hours ago, Shadowlax said:

Heck if you want to get crazy I believe black doom is also suggesting there were black arms ruins on the ship, considering that some of those ruins are litterally the M.E altar you can suggest that the echidna may have had a role in sealing them up the last time round.

Except the Echidnas were all wiped out 4000 to 3000 years ago, more than a millennia before the Black Arms came to Earth to build Glyphic Canyon.

12 hours ago, Shadowlax said:

There was recently a reveal on twitter where they showed uncensored versions of the pods in shadow's game with unfinished shadows in it along with black arm mush.  If you are taking the idea that shadow may not have been born on the arc, shadow could have been an old black arm mobian hybrid that they were trying to resurrect and they used black dooms blood to stablize him so he wouldn't just die

Except it's much more sensible to conclude that the unfinished specimens are based on the unfinished specimens seen in Sonic X. Compare these https://mobile.twitter.com/Shadowth117/status/1170231044609429504 with this

 

10 hours ago, MetalSkulkBane said:

Interesting read.

To summarize, just to make sure I follow: You think that Sonic is True Shadow born on ARK, while Fake Shadow (our Shadow) was made on Prison Island as instrument of vengeance, with fake memories, partially connected to "Maria's heart" in Battle. And that was original intention that Sega later abandoned.

Yes, with the additional caveat that the later games present their information in such a way that it doesn't directly contradict the stuff they established before.  I think the writers have always wanted the parallelism between Sonic and Shadow (and the implication of their shared origin) to be something they could mine for future stories.

10 hours ago, MetalSkulkBane said:

First of all, I don't buy that Commander somehow convinced himself that True Shadow (Sonic) was black-red. There were soldiers chasing Shadow before Maria's death. GUN should know how U-L they chasing looks like.

Where did we see GUN chasing Shadow and Maria?  In Shadow's fake memories created by Gerald.  In Sonic X we see the ARK raid retold from the pov of the soldier who killed Maria, and he never sees Shadow at all, he only sees Maria jettisoning two obaque capsules from the ARK. 

And of course Amy and Dr. Eggman have even less excuse for mistaking a black and red hedgehog for a blue hedgehog, nevertheless they did.

10 hours ago, MetalSkulkBane said:

Heck, Black Doom would know how True Shadow looks like and obviously he would go for a real thing.

Doom would go after the one that has his DNA in him, so he wouldn't be paralyzed by the nerve gas and his mind control powers would work on him at the critical moment.  Besides, Doom repeatedly emphasizes that he knows Gerald manipulated Shadow's memories, something that did not happen until after the Professor was taken to Prison Island- meaning Doom would also know if a second Shadow was created there.  As I said in the op, "It doesn't matter to Doom's over all plan whether Shadow was the real Ultimate Life Form or not, only if he was useful to conquering the Earth."

10 hours ago, MetalSkulkBane said:

Second. Why would Gerald deal with Black Doom to make Fake Shadow, if True Shadow is already existing?

As discussed in part three above, the Biolizard resembles the Black Arms as much, if not more, than Shadow does. Accepting that their coloration- the only thing Shadow has in common with the Biolizard, the only thing either of them have in common with the Black Arms besides the ability to use Chaos Control- is the mark of their genetic relationship, as Doom himself endorses, then that would mean Gerald's deal with him goes back to when work on the Prototype was still ongoing; that is, a long time before either Sonic or Shadow were created.

10 hours ago, MetalSkulkBane said:

Third how can Fake Shadow be made by crazy Gerald as instrument of vengeance, but also be given Maria's heart?

Because the "Shadow" who originally received a heart modeled on Maria was Sonic, and the second Shadow (what Rouge's report calls a copy) is in turn modeled on him.  Gerald's diary in SA2 runs as follows "Based on my original projections, I was able to complete my project, Shadow. I designed its mind to be perfect, pure..."  Although Shadow's memories were fabricated in order to make him carry out Gerald's doomsday plan, he was still derived from the same template the Professor conceived while he was working to help humanity.

10 hours ago, MetalSkulkBane said:

Also 06 implies that Shadow might be unkillable, while Sonic sure isn't.

I mean I've seen Shadow die while playing through Sky Rail about a hundred times.  He goes limp and says "M-ri-a..". :P

10 hours ago, MetalSkulkBane said:

Best lies are semi-based on truth.

Which I suspect to be Doom and Eggman's MO as well.

6 hours ago, herefor1reason said:

It's been a good long time since I've seen this era of Sonic's lore be the main topic of discussion and it makes me happy.

Drawing attention to the richness and depth of detail in Adventure era Sonic storytelling is my primary purpose for these theories, rather than trying to persuade anyone to any particular conclusion.

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12 hours ago, Ivo-goji said:

1) Where did we see GUN chasing Shadow and Maria?  In Shadow's fake memories created by Gerald.  In Sonic X we see the ARK raid retold from the pov of the soldier who killed Maria, and he never sees Shadow at all, he only sees Maria jettisoning two obaque capsules from the ARK.

2) As discussed in part three above, the Biolizard resembles the Black Arms as much, if not more, than Shadow does. Accepting that their coloration- the only thing Shadow has in common with the Biolizard, the only thing either of them have in common with the Black Arms besides the ability to use Chaos Control- is the mark of their genetic relationship, as Doom himself endorses, then that would mean Gerald's deal with him goes back to when work on the Prototype was still ongoing; that is, a long time before either Sonic or Shadow were created.

3) Because the "Shadow" who originally received a heart modeled on Maria was Sonic, and the second Shadow (what Rouge's report calls a copy) is in turn modeled on him.  Gerald's diary in SA2 runs as follows "Based on my original projections, I was able to complete my project, Shadow. I designed its mind to be perfect, pure..."  Although Shadow's memories were fabricated in order to make him carry out Gerald's doomsday plan, he was still derived from the same template the Professor conceived while he was working to help humanity

1) Okay, but it stands to reason someone knew how True Shadow looks. They didn't barged on ARK with vague hope of guessing what they are looking for. Did no document/intel/kidCommander described TrueShadow as 'blue hedgehog' ? And if I was Commander and shape my whole life on hating one person, I think I would try remembering how he looked like. IDK, Suspension of disbelief is pretty stretched by now.

2) So sane Gerald worked with Doom and made Biolizard, then made TrueShadow/Sonic on his own, yet still showed Sonic to Black Doom in 'recolored' flashback of Commander, left him message how he needs to stop Black Doom, went crazy, made Fake Shadow with Doom's DNA and in ironic plot twist it was FakeShadow that got the message and saved the world. Sure.

3) I would call it illogical design, but I suppose crazy people playing god in secret in jail, with limited time before their execution, are prone to making few long distance mistakes.

Just curious, do you have any explanation why Gerald confessed his whole plan right before death and yet no one did anything to prevent it from happening or do we just agree that logic was sacrificed to make this speech more dramatic and let's be honest, it was worth it?

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7 hours ago, MetalSkulkBane said:

1) Okay, but it stands to reason someone knew how True Shadow looks. They didn't barged on ARK with vague hope of guessing what they are looking for. Did no document/intel/kidCommander described TrueShadow as 'blue hedgehog' ? 

I feel like the two dozen guys who arrested Sonic at the beginning of SA2 should have had some idea that the hedgehog Eggman released from Prison Island was black and red, but the whole game is basically premised on people not realizing this.

7 hours ago, MetalSkulkBane said:

yet still showed Sonic to Black Doom in 'recolored' flashback of Commander

If it was Sonic that he showed to Black Doom.  In the same flashback there are unfinished Shadows in the surrounding tubes.

ED176WiU8AEEFOZ?format=png&name=small

Gerald could easily have been exhibiting a half alive iteration of these mass produced hedgehogs to show Doom their progress, then finalized an entirely separate Ultimate Life Form (whether Sonic or Shadow) later.  There's no absolute proof that the specimen seen up close in the flashback survived to make it to Earth anymore than his incomplete brothers did.

7 hours ago, MetalSkulkBane said:

I would call it illogical design, but I suppose crazy people playing god in secret in jail, with limited time before their execution, are prone to making few long distance mistakes.

Which is easier, creating a brand new super soldier from scratch or replicating an older design?  He was working under duress. 

7 hours ago, MetalSkulkBane said:

 Just curious, do you have any explanation why Gerald confessed his whole plan right before death and yet no one did anything to prevent it from happening 

They most likely dismissed it because the plan sounded impossible.  They didn't know that Gerald had downloaded memories into the hedgehog they kept in their freezer containing instructions for gathering the Chaos Emeralds to the Space Colony, so as far as they imagined there was no one alive with sufficient knowledge to carry out the plan.  As it stands there wasn't much else they could do to stop it.  Dismantling the ARK was out of the question both logistically and in terms of maintaining their cover story that it had become too hazardous for human occupancy.  Chaos Emeralds self mend so as far as we know there's no permanent way to destroy them.

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