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Chapter 4 - Enter Troblusk City

Knuckles battles mysterious new foes bent on stealing the Master Emerald!

Meanwhile, Punchy and Rainbow have discovered Rainbow's sister... But is she an enemy?

Chapter 4 - Enter Troblusk City

Chapter 4 - Enter Troblusk City
GeneX - Knuckles the Echidna
Chapter 4 - Enter Troblusk City
Stage 4(Dark 2) - Hollow Manor
Boss 4 - Shadow Chaos

Note: Sonic the Hedgehog and related characters are (c) SEGA and
Sonic Team. You knew that, right?
GeneX and related fanchars are (c) 2BIT (TheGreatGator), the author.

The story thus far:
The Covenant of Despair has emerged from the shadows, and Knuckles, Punchy, and Sonic have each had a run in with the sinister group. As Sonic battles with Anubis, a motive of the organization is revealed: They plan to begin a war with humanity! In the meantime, Char and Alpha have tracked down a Chaos Emerald for the diabolical Dr. Eggman. With new evil schemes emerging by the moment, what will happen next is anyone's guess!
Now, on to the next chapter!

Station Square is a decent city. Though trouble has found its way there on a few occasions, overall the city is calm and peaceful. In every nation, some cities are better than others, and some are worse than others. Troblusk City is an example of the wrong side of the tracks. You can't walk five steps in that dark, petulant place without being within sight of a villain of some sort. Such a place, where the rule of law is nearly absent, was a perfect place for a certain black-furred outlaw to hide out. This black, two-tailed fox was slowly walking down the streets, wearing a pair of blue pants with a yellow stripe along the bottom of each leg. A pair of blue goggles rested between his ears and the strands of white hair that hovered over his right eye. His two tails ended in spiky tufts of white fur, and his left tail wore the Tailband of Chaos which granted him great strength. He may look like Tails, but he was Copter the fox. Much was on his mind as he passed by the immense clock tower at the center of Troblusk City. "Who are these Covenant of Despair weirdos I've been seeing around? What do they want?" he said to no one. Suddenly, he spotted a familiar adversary of his heading his way! It was a green porcupine wearing a police uniform. "Freeze!! Don't move, experiment!" shouted officer Razor, pointing his gun at Copter! "Huh? You again! Don't you ever get tired of pointing that gun at me?" the fox groaned. Razor was looking a little weary, which was understandable considering where he was working now. "Yes, this does get pretty old. So could you please come quietly this time?" he asked. "Sorry. I'm not interested in seeing Guard and those other GUN geeks again." Copter growled, recalling the time when he was a prisoner. Suddenly, a robotic voice shouted at Copter from behind! "Experiment detected!! Capture!! Capture!!" Copter looked around and found an assortment of GUN's robots surrounding him! Razor smiled smugly at Copter. "I should have mentioned! Those 'GUN geeks' have been watching this town! Now, surrender!" he warned. Copter looked at the enemies nervously. "Eep... Can we talk this over?" he whined. Another, more unexpected voice replied to Copter's plea. "Don't bother! These wimps are nothing!" At this moment, a large purple dragon flew over from behind the clock tower, blowing fire at a pair of GUN beetles as it arrived! Copter knew who it was immediately. "K-kosmo!?" he stuttered. As the dragon landed, it began glowing with a bright, white light! "It's Experiment 3! Change target!!" the robots shouted, rushing the glowing dragon! The dragon proceeded to change shape, and as the light faded, a purple gargoyle stood in its place! "Boo!" Kosmo said as a hunter robot approached him. He jumped into the air, flying circles around the hunter for a moment before dropping down and kicking it hard, destroying it! When the smoke cleared, Kosmo quickly transformed into a purple version of Shadow, and used the speed of this form to take out the rest of the robots in a flash, leaving only a purple blur as he passed each exploding robot! Razor watched this in panic. "Aaaaah!! What's happening!?" he gasped. Within seconds, the last robot exploded, and Kosmo stopped in front of Razor before transforming into his normal form, which was a furry, purple creature with a hairless muzzle, red gloves, turquoise shoes, and a mohawk consisting of four strands of hair between his ears. His most notable feature was his glowing yellow eyes, which had black pupils and continued glowing no matter what form he was in. "Wanna be next?" he asked Razor once his transformation was finished. "Shoot! I need backup!!" Razor realized, running off as quickly as he could.

Kosmo laughed as Razor escaped, then started to leave before remembering Copter. "Oh, howdy." he muttered to him. "K-kosmo... You just saved me again!" Copter said, recalling the last time Razor almost caught him. Kosmo shrugged. "Just messing with GUN. You were just the bait! See ya!" As Kosmo ran off, Copter tried to chase him. "H-hey!! Wait!! Come back here, Kosmo!" he shouted. Kosmo ignored him and kept moving, so Copter just continued following him. Kosmo glanced back, glaring at him. "We're not buddies just because I helped you. Stop following me!" he shouted, continuing on his way. "Well, maybe I think I should keep an eye on you! Wouldn't want you going all psycho again..." Copter said, still following him. Kosmo stopped in his tracks, growling in frustration. "Psycho!? Come on! I just- You know what? I don't have to talk to you!" he said, leaning down to pick up some rocks. He then turned around and threw some rocks at Copter, who started backing away. "Hey! Cut it out!" he shouted. Kosmo threw one more rock before turning to leave. "Stop following me!" he said as he walked off. Copter hesitated a moment. "Hmmm... I wouldn't want him morphing and picking a fight with me, but I don't wanna just let him go this time..." he thought. Though Kosmo had helped him, Copter still couldn't be sure he could be trusted. "If only there was an easy way to follow him.... Hey, wait! There is!" he realized. Focusing on the energy of his tailband, Copter managed to activate its power, and vanished! "All right! I got it to work! I think... Well, time to test that..." he thought, following Kosmo once more. As they walked, Kosmo heard Copter's footsteps behind him. "I said.... huh!?" When he turned around, he could not see Copter. "Hmmm... Maybe it's my imagination..." he muttered, walking off again. Copter spun his tails and started flying to follow Kosmo. "Invisibility's working... Hopefully he can't hear my flying..." he thought. Whether Kosmo noticed him or not, their walk continued. Soon, they reached an even darker area of the city, which was heavily covered in dead and dying trees. In a clearing among these trees was a large, seemingly abandoned mansion! It was an extremely creepy place, but Kosmo sighed calmly once they arrived. "Home, sweet home!" he said to himself.

Kosmo entered the mansion and looked around. The entrance hall's only source of light was a couple of candles on a table by the wall to the left. The only apparent exit to the room, aside from the entrance, was a stairway leading to a balcony. The hall was a mess; it was cluttered with old junk and covered with dust. As Kosmo stepped towards the stairs at the end of the hall, he soon noticed that he was not alone. A few of GUN's beetles hovered down from the balcony, heading right for him! "What the... Those military dopes found my hiding place!" he exclaimed. One of the beetles fired a warning shot at his feet, which caused him to stumble and fall over! "Why you little... I oughta..." Kosmo grumbled as he stood up. "Kosmo the Morph! You are under arrest, by order of Col. Gunner!" the beetle said. Kosmo took a moment to process what had been said to him. "He... actually.... GOT PROMOTED!? Gah, GUN's full of idiots!!" he shouted angrily. The rest of the beetles in the room suddenly revealed their guns. "Suspect appears hostile. Preparing to attack!" the apparent leader of the beetles said. Kosmo raised an eyebrow. "Is this thing serious?" he said, feeling the beetle was being particularly stupid. As the beetles started shooting, Kosmo jumped into the air, morphing into gargoyle form as he did! "It's serious!" he groaned as he flew away from the bullets being shot at him. "Must capture suspect! Dead or alive!" the beetles yelled. "Oh, yeah?" Kosmo grinned, beginning to transform his tail. "Don't hog all the robots this time!" said Copter, who had just appeared at the entrance! Kosmo had turned his tail into a mace, and had begun swinging it around. "Great. Everyone followed me! Looks like I need a new hideout!" he growled, hurling the spiked ball at the end of his tail at the nearest beetle, destroying it! Copter nodded in agreement at what Kosmo had said. "Yeah, you don't need GUN knocking at your door every day. Well, time to deal with these guys! Chaos Whirlwind!!" As Copter motioned his hand towards one of the beetles, a chaotic wind began blowing in that direction, knocking the beetle off course and into another beetle, smashing them both! Kosmo landed beside Copter and looked at his handiwork. "Nice one. That wraps this up!" In the time it took Copter to destroy two of them, Kosmo had already taken out the rest! Copter crossed his arms. "Show off! But if I know GUN, more are on the way." he said. "Yippie... Well, before I ditch this place, I have to go fetch something." Kosmo replied, heading for the stairs. "Mind if I tag along?" Copter offered. Kosmo groaned at his persistence. "Oh, if you must... But I'm not your babysitter. If GUN catches you, you're on your own!" he warned. Copter started following him. "They couldn't catch a cold! Let's go!" he said.

Kosmo led Copter through the halls of the manor, but it wasn't long before squads of GUN Beetles blocked their path again. "Those bots have the hallway on lockdown, more or less..." Kosmo grumbled. "We could probably take 'em, as long as they don't have backup waiting to smash through the ceiling or something..." Copter mused. Kosmo shook his head. "Too close quarters for my taste. And this place is full of secret passages that they may have gotten into. Might turn ugly." he said, placing his hand against a rather abstract painting on the wall and giving it a push, revealing it to be a secret door! "Let's head for the library." he suggested, leading the way through the secret passage. The dark corridor contained a cobweb-covered stairway that ended at another painting-door leading to the dusty, cluttered library of the manor. Not only that, but it was slimy, too! Copter and Kosmo gasped upon finding puddles of losol slithering around the room! "Uuumm... Those YOUR pets?" Copter asked. "No way! GUN must've brought them!" Kosmo snapped. Some losol were crawling up into the bookshelves, and having reached some books, seemed to be absorbed into the covers! Then, the books seemed to come alive, flapping around the room like bats! "Kosmo...? Let's get out of this room, okay?" Copter suggested. Kosmo morphed into a bat form and latched on to the ceiling upside down. "Plotting my course now... You might want to figure a way to avoid those slime puddles on the way to the door." he suggested. Copter made an annoyed face, when suddenly, a laser was fired between them from inside the secret passage! "Experiments!! You are under arrest!!" shouted a robotic voice! Kosmo started flapping frantically. "Planning phase over! Time to go!!" he shouted. "Chaos Whirlwind!!" Copter yelled, blowing as much of the Lost Ones aside as he could so that he could make for the door! He also blew Kosmo forward, knocking him into the wall with a splat! "Ow...! Warn me when you're gonna do that!" he growled. Copter opened the door hastily as GUN robots started swarming into the room. "Let's roll, Kos!" he said, pulling the bat-morph off the wall!

They emerged at another dark hallway. "Well, anyway... Where'd you stash your stuff, Kosmo?" Copter asked as they slammed the door behind them and started moving. "On this floor. My 'bedroom,' if you must know." Kosmo replied. Copter nodded. "Makes sense... Something's been bugging me, though. You could mess with GUN more directly if you wanted to. So why have you been following me around and helping me out?" he asked. Kosmo laughed at him. "Following you? Jeez, I help you twice and you think I'm following you. I just happened to be in the neighborhood. And you're the one following me now. What's up with that?" he wondered. Copter didn't get to answer, as suddenly they heard laughter coming from a nearby room! "Hee hee!" Copter and Kosmo both glanced in the direction of the laughter. "You don't have a room-mate, right Kosmo?" Copter asked. Suddenly, the laughter was heard again, coming from behind them! Copter looked back and thought he saw someone running into a door a short distance away. "I think someone's following us..." he said. Kosmo looked where Copter was looking. "Great. What is it now, a ninja?" he wondered. "Hee hee!" The laughter came from the other side of the hallway this time, and was slightly louder. "Sounds like a kid..." Copter realized. There were doors all along both sides of the hallway, and every time both of them looked in one direction, the voice laughed behind them and crossed the hall to a room on the other side. This kept up for a couple minutes, until Kosmo decided to trip their stalker up. When Copter looked behind him, Kosmo simply walked in place a little, trying to make it sound like he'd turned. Just then, someone dressed in black dashed by the hall and entered a room on the other side! "That way!" Kosmo yelled, grabbing Copter by the arm and rushing after the stranger! They chased through the dusty, messy rooms of the mansion, barely keeping him in sight. As they ran, the stranger continued laughing as he tossed some junk he'd grabbed from the floor back at them! An old jack-in-the-box hit Copter in the head, knocking him over! Kosmo continued running without him, and once they were gone, Copter climbed to his feet. The jack-in-the-box opened loudly as he did, startling him. "Ahh!! Grrr... Keep chasing him, Kosmo! When I catch up, I wanna strangle him!!" he yelled, rushing off in the direction they'd gone. He soon found himself back in the hallway. He could hear Kosmo shouting at the stranger, so Copter followed his voice. When he caught up with Kosmo, he found the stranger cornered at a dead end! "Got you now!" Kosmo growled. The stranger they'd been chasing was a fox dressed in a Covenant of Despair uniform. His fur was colored differently in different places. His head was yellow, his ears were blue, and his tail was green, with a tuft of cyan fur at the end. He had green eyes and wore orange shoes. Though his voice sounded childish, he was actually a teenager. "OK, why were you following us!?" Copter yelled. "Hee hee! You guys are funny lookin'!" the fox chuckled. Kosmo glared at the colorful fox. "You brought GUN here, didn't you!? I oughta..." he growled, stepping towards the stranger. As he did, the floorboards started to creak loudly, and Kosmo stopped moving. "Hey, what's wrong, Kosmo?" Copter asked, walking towards him. "No, wait, stop!!" Kosmo shouted too late! The floorboards beneath them snapped from their weight, and they fell through the floor! The colorful stranger was laughing uncontrollably as Copter and Kosmo tumbled into the room below, landing on a large table! When the dust settled, Copter and Kosmo shakily climbed to their feet before looking around. They were in the dining room, which was dimly lit by a few candles on the table. Foul-smelling food was sitting on plates positioned around the table. "Once again, thanks for all your HELP, Copter!!" Kosmo grumbled.

The colorful fox they'd been chasing jumped gracefully through the hole in the floor, then back flipped over Copter and Kosmo! He then ran over to the entrance to the room, where a pair of glowing red eyes were peering through the darkness. "Well, well. It's that shape-shifter. Experiment 3." said the owner of the eyes as he stepped into the room. He was also wearing a Covenant of Despair uniform, but with a blue thirteen-pointed star on it instead of the usual red. This creature was a sort of turquoise canine, with black ears, a gray muzzle, and a medium-sized tail. He wore blue gloves and gray shoes. His lightly glowing red eyes had black pupils, and he wore a somewhat sleepy expression. The colorful fox was hopping in place with a silly expression. "Shape-shifter you say? Think he can imitate me? Hee hee!" he said. Kosmo crossed his arms and glared at them. "Just who are you supposed to be?" he asked. Copter recognized their uniforms. "They're with the Covenant of Despair." he growled. The canine nodded slowly. "Yes, that's right. They call me Basker. It's a pleasure. Sort of." he said. The colorful fox was excitedly jumping in place. "Hee hee! I'm called Patch! We have a bit in common, I think!" he giggled. "OK, and what are you doing here? Recruiting for the black-jumpsuit brigade?" Kosmo asked. "That's not why we're here. But you should consider it." Basker said calmly. He was very much the opposite of Patch, who seemed unable to contain his energy. "Despair's loads of fun! You get to beat up humans! Hee hee!" he said while hopping in place. Copter frowned. "Geez, these guys seem weirder every time I see 'em. You aren't considering joining them, are you, Kosmo?" he asked. Kosmo stood there with his arms crossed and his eyes shut, thinking. He was grinning at whatever he was thinking about, and it made Copter feel uneasy. "Kosmo? Seriously... Don't join these guys!" he insisted. Basker looked a little impatient. "Well, what's your answer? We know you are no fan of humans. Join us, and you can be rid of them." he said. Kosmo opened his eyes and glanced up at the hole in the roof. "Too bad. I don't have time for you kooks. GUN's probably gonna swarm this place soon, so I gotta finish here and leave, quick." he said. Basker stared at Kosmo calmly. "I am aware of GUN's presence. It is of no consequence. However, I can see that you need more time to think about this. Give him something to think about, Patch." he ordered. Patch hopped a few steps toward Copter and Kosmo, holding ninja stars in his hands. "Hee hee! Mull this over!" he said, throwing several of the sharp stars at them! Reacting fast, Kosmo morphed into his gargoyle form and flew up through the hole in the roof, followed closely by Copter, who barely dodged some of the stars as he flew to the next floor! As they escaped, Patch attempted to chase them, but Basker quickly grabbed him by the arm! "Lemme go! Lemme go!! I wanna poke holes in them!!" Patch whined. Basker tugged his arm roughly. "Patch, if you need throw knives, there are plenty of robots. We've no time." he insisted. Patch stopped attempting to run and frowned. "Awww. Why are we letting them go?" he asked. Basker released his arm and started walking towards the hole in the roof. "We still have our mission, and I believe that Experiment 3 may yet be persuaded to join us." he explained. Patch pulled out a switchblade and started playing with it. "Well, whatever. Hee hee! I guess we'll see those guys again!" he giggled.

After returning to the upper floor, Kosmo realized that chasing Patch had caused him to become somewhat lost. They had to retrace their steps to find their way to an area of the mansion Kosmo was more familiar with. Soon enough, they met with a problem. The GUN beetles from the library had gotten loose, and something seemed different about them now! "Hey, do those robots look a little green to you...?" Copter muttered. They were floating in a rather unusual fashion, as well, like gravity had lost its effect on them. Kosmo frowned. "Remember the slime that possessed those books?" he said. The GUN beetles, clearly possessed by the losol as well, had now noticed them, and started blowing jets of ghostly blue fire in front of them as they approached! Copter started to sweat. "I've seen that kinda fire before... It does baaad things to ya. Tell me they're not blocking the way we need to go!" he shouted. The ghoulish beetles were in fact blocking a fork in the hallway, and as Kosmo looked over the paintings and sconces on the wall, he got his bearings and nodded. "Yeah, we gotta turn that corner." he said. The beetles were heading their way, blowing those blue flames, so Copter thought to blow them back. "Chaos Whirlwind!!" The wind blew the fire back all right, and engulfed the beetles in the flames, turning them into possessed fireballs! "Come on, they shouldn't be flammable!!" Copter groaned. Kosmo morphed into hedgehog form and shook Copter's hand. "If I don't make it out, shoot Gunner for me, will ya?" he grumbled. Copter chuckled. "Sure, but who will avenge my death when your skeleton murders me?" he whimpered. Kosmo then leapt in between the beetles and yelled "Chaos Blast!!" The chaotic explosion incinerated the robots, and left behind scorched puddles of dead losol! Copter leaned against the wall, sighing in relief, and the wall opened up to reveal a secret passage that he stumbled into! "WHOA!! Where'd this come from!? My poor tails..." he whined. Kosmo smacked his head upon seeing that passage. "RIGHT! That was there! It would've taken us RIGHT NEXT to my room!" he groaned in frustration. Copter stood up shakily and glared at him. "Next time you take up residence in a sprawling haunted house, DRAW A MAP!!" he yelled.

Soon, they were at Kosmo's room, which was probably the dustiest room in the mansion, and the most empty. Aside from a few blankets in the corner, the most notable thing about the room were large cracks in the walls. Kosmo walked over to the blankets in the corner and pulled some things out from under them. "Let's see... Chicken bones... Newspapers... Sunglasses... Ah! Here it is!" Kosmo stood up holding a small object in his hand. "This is my only real possession. Well, besides the glasses. That's good for disguises." he said. Copter walked over to get a look at what Kosmo was holding. "It's a gold coin... Looks kinda ancient." he observed. Kosmo nodded. "Yeah. There's some writing along the edges of it in some form of old gibberish. Probably older than Bucky is." he said. "Where'd you get it?" Copter wondered. Kosmo shrugged. "I found it after I escaped Shadow Arc. Sometimes it glows. I think it might come in handy someday." he said. "Well, I guess we should go now..." Copter said, turning to leave. As he did, an explosion of light erupted from Kosmo's coin, startling them both! "Whoa!! What's goin' on!?" Copter shouted, turning back towards Kosmo. In seconds, the coin stopped glowing, and Kosmo blinked his eyes a few times to recover from the shock. "Wha... It's never flashed that bright before..." he muttered under his breath. "What's the matter, Kosmo?" Copter asked. Kosmo flicked the coin into the air and caught it. "Ah, it's nothing. Let's get outta here." As they headed for the exit, Copter hesitated. He heard a strange noise coming from the cracks in the back wall. "I know that sound... Kosmo! Something's coming!" Copter shouted, turning around to see what was happening. A strange, black liquid was oozing through the cracks in the wall! Kosmo looked at it with curiosity. "Not more sludge..." he grumbled, thinking it might be losol. Suddenly, the black liquid gushed out of the wall faster, and then rose from the floor, taking the shape of Chaos! The black Chaos had yellow eyes, and was familiar to Copter. It was Shadow Chaos, the creature Copter had encountered in the Chaos Shrine! "Hey... What's this thing!? What does it want!?" Kosmo growled. Copter thought back and remembered his fight with the creature. "I've seen it before... You! Monster thing! What do you want from me!?" he yelled, shaking his fist at Shadow Chaos. "It's not you he's looking at!" Kosmo realized. Suddenly, Shadow Chaos stretched its arms and threw its fists at Kosmo, knocking him a few feet backward! Copter turned in Kosmo's direction. "Whoa! You OK, Kosmo?" he asked. Kosmo stood up and shot a furious look at Shadow Chaos. "Got a bone to pick with me? Then show me what you got!" he yelled. Shadow Chaos jumped over to Kosmo and swung its seemingly elastic arms at him, knocking him aside again! This time, however, Kosmo didn't fall down. "Talkative thing, aren't ya?" he said. Copter ran over to assist Kosmo. "This thing's a real piece of work, Kosmo! Let's take it on together!" he suggested. Kosmo glowed with white light, attempting to transform, but abruptly shifted back into his normal form. "Well... It does seem that I'm more tired than I thought... Shouldn't have used Kosmogon form to help you earlier." he realized. Shadow Chaos took advantage of Kosmo's failure to transform, and slapped him aside with his powerful arms again! However, this gave Copter an opening to attack it with a tailband-powered tail whip! Shadow Chaos exploded into a black puddle, but quickly reshaped itself into its normal form. "Aw, that's cheating!" Kosmo grunted as he stood up again, "Well, I'm not getting knocked down again! Let's try Kosmosis!" A purple light shot out of Kosmo's eyes, similar to his Kosmos attack, but weaker. The attack wasn't powerful enough to explode Shadow Chaos, but it did knock it backward a bit. Shadow Chaos recovered quickly, and ran between Copter and Kosmo, spinning its stretched-out arms in order to smack both of them away! They were flung into the air, but both landed on their feet. "That kinda hurt... And it seemed like my tailband didn't hurt it any more than a regular attack would've..." Copter realized, seeing that Shadow Chaos didn't seem to be growing any weaker. Kosmo grinned at the creature. "Not bad, but it's time to end this!" As if in response to Kosmo's words, Shadow Chaos charged at him, flailing its arms violently! Copter flew over in an attempt to help. "Look out, Kosmo!" he shouted. Kosmo prepared to dodge, but Shadow Chaos stopped to smack Copter out of the sky with its long arm! Copter fell onto the pile of junk Kosmo left next to the blankets. "Ow!! Those chicken bones hurt!!" Copter groaned. Kosmo was about to attempt to attack Shadow Chaos, but the creature already turned to him and started attacking again. Kosmo jumped aside and ran out of the way, putting some distance between himself and Shadow Chaos. The creature pulled its arms back to their normal length and pointed its hands at Kosmo. After aiming, it began firing globs of black fluid at Kosmo with speed similar to a bullet! Kosmo quickly ran out of the way. "Good at long-distance fighting are you? Try this on for size then!" Though he was now panting with exhaustion, Kosmo managed to force his tail to morph into a mace, which he threw at Shadow Chaos quickly, smashing the spiked ball into Shadow Chaos and causing it to break down into a puddle again! As his mace-tail snapped back to him, Kosmo morphed it back to normal and glanced at the black water on the floor. "OK... He wasn't so tough. I think I beat him... Let's get outta here, already..." he said, starting to head for the exit again. However, Shadow Chaos began quickly reforming after Kosmo took his eyes off it, and as soon as it was able, it fired its arms in Kosmo's direction! "Look out!" Copter yelled, running over as fast as he could! Kosmo turned just in time to see Copter run in the path of the attack. Shadow Chaos's arms smacked into Copter with such force that they splashed against his chest, but Copter stood firm. "Yeow!! That hurts... Lousy monster!!" Copter groaned. Shadow Chaos retracted its arms and backed away a step, making odd noises in frustration. Kosmo stared wide-eyed at Copter. "Hey! Why'd you do that!?" he asked. Copter glanced back at Kosmo. "Heh... Now we're even..." he said. Kosmo stepped out from behind Copter and faced Shadow Chaos. "That sneak attack was uncalled for! If that's the way you're gonna be, let's finish this!" he growled.

Rather than attack Kosmo, Shadow Chaos backed away towards the wall. Naturally, this confused Kosmo. "Hey! We're not done yet! Come back here, you coward!" he shouted. Shadow Chaos sank back into a puddle and started slipping back into the cracks. Suddenly, a voice came from outside the room. "Stop! Shadow Chaos!!" It was Basker! He and Patch ran into the room, but they were too late. The last of Shadow Chaos's liquid form slipped into the cracks, escaping into the darkness. Basker was panting, having apparently been running for a while. "Missed him..." he said unhappily. "Well, it isn't a total loss! We found these guys again! Hee hee!" Patch giggled, pointing at Copter and Kosmo, who were now cautiously approaching the Covenant of Despair members. "That's weird. Almost seems like you guys scared that monster away." Kosmo observed. "Well, those guys ARE pretty creepy." Copter pointed out. "BOO! Hee hee!" Patch joked. Basker glanced around the room, as though looking for something. "It seems Shadow Chaos is no longer here..." he said. "Is that the creature that attacked us?" Kosmo asked. Patch laughed at the question. "Hee hee! That's classified!" he said. Basker crossed his arms. "I'd ask what you two were doing here, but I don't think it matters. Our operations here are concluded. We must now return to headquarters." he said sleepily. Patch jumped towards the exit and ran out hastily. "Hee hee! Later, losers!" he giggled. Basker hesitated. "I am anxious to return to headquarters. You two are welcome to come along, if only to get a sense of how hopeless it is to oppose us." he suggested. As Basker started walking away, Copter and Kosmo exchanged puzzled looks. "So... Were they looking for that monster?" Copter wondered. "I don't know, but they've got me a little curious. Besides, I need a new place to hang out. Perhaps I should follow them." Kosmo said, starting to follow Basker and Patch. Copter watched him go with concern. "I don't know about this... Well, maybe I can learn more about these creepy weirdos if I visit their HQ..." he decided, running off to catch up to the others.

"Mister Master! We've arrived!" Meanwhile, at Shadow Arcangel, two new experiments were meeting with their creator, the brown, lab coat wearing rat known as Bucky Stein. One of the experiments was a strange, yellow creature with a blue streak going down the center of her head, as well as blue hair hanging behind her head as well. She wore a light green sleeveless top, burgundy pants and had a forked tail with a band of blue fur ringing near the tip of each end. She had pink eyes, and was overall the most unique creation Bucky had produced yet. The other was a brown griffin. He had tan wings, a white crest of feathers on his head and a white tuft of feathers on his chest. He wore cyan gloves, yellow sneakers with red stripes, and had red eyes. He knelt before Bucky respectfully as he arrived, quite a contrast to his companion. "What is your will, my father?" he said. Bucky paused before turning his seat to face them. "You're late. We haven't got time to waste!" he said sternly. The female saluted him. "Understood, mister master. Better explain things to the baby quickly." she joked. The griffin looked at her in annoyance. "Quit calling me a baby!" he protested. Bucky rolled his eyes. "Fourteen! Fifteen! No bickering! You share the same mission!" he shouted. They glanced at him as he continued. "War is coming to our home. We could just sit by and ignore it... but this could be our chance. Our chance to step out of the shadows and reclaim our freedom!" he declared. The griffin looked uncertain. "Freedom... Is that really worth fighting for?" he wondered. The other experiment laughed at him. "That's why you're the baby, 'Fifteen.'" she said. "Cut it out, 'Fourteen!'" the griffin growled, raising his fists. Bucky shot a bolt of lightning between them to regain their attention. "Stop it! Your mission is simple. Go forth and observe all sides of this conflict!" he ordered. Fourteen crossed her arms. "What about the spies? Aren't Vortex and Zipp better for this job?" she pointed out. Bucky smirked at them. "Maybe I want you both to prove yourselves." he said. The griffin nodded. "Yes, father. We won't let you down." he said. "We'll split up and check out the Covenant of Despair and GUN!" Fourteen added. Bucky nodded. "Hmm... Don't overlook Sonic in all this. He's the wild card in this game. We'll keep in touch. Good luck, my experiments." he said. "Race ya, Fourteen!" the griffin said, speeding off. However, Fourteen hesitated in order to give Bucky a knowing wink. "Don't worry, mister master. I'll take care of everything." she said. Bucky nodded. "I have great expectations for you. BOTH of you." he said. As both experiments started to leave, Bucky turned to the controls of the Arcangel. "Time for me to go. The Covenant awaits..." he murmured.

Eventually, Kosmo and Copter found themselves in what appeared to be a throne room of sorts, deep within the Covenant of Despair's headquarters. Basker and Patch had taken them a long way, and they stopped to rest before going far into the large room. It was an elaborate throne room, giant columns along the walls reaching up to the high roof, unlit torches lined the path to the back of the room, with two lit torches in the center, burning with black flames. A large, black chair dominated the back of the room. It had various fearsome images carved into it, and was emblazoned with the Covenant of Despair's symbol, the thirteen-pointed star. As they wandered towards the throne, Conan watched them from the shadow of one of the columns to the right, doing his best not to be seen. His expression grew tense as he gazed at Copter's tailband. "What a revolting development..." he thought. Patch had left Basker's side and started goofing around near Conan, prompting him to sneak away to avoid being noticed. Near the throne, Basker turned to Copter and Kosmo. "We must wait a moment." he told them before walking in front of the throne, which was currently empty. "I guess we gotta wait for someone for some reason..." Copter muttered. To the left of the throne, a black and red hornet wearing a black leather jacket and a black helmet was looking at them. His helmet had a black visor that made his eyes impossible to see. "Heyyyyy..." he muttered, slowly flying towards them. "Psst! Copter!" he whispered. "Zipp?" Copter said, somewhat surprised, "What are you doing here?" Zipp's companions, Crash and Vortex, were hanging out by the columns at the left wall as well. Crash, a grey, green-eyed rhinoceros wearing a yellow bowler hat, was the first to join them. "Nice to see you again." he said. Kosmo's eyes widened as he realized what their presence meant. "Oh... No... It couldn't be..." he groaned. Vortex, a black chameleon with two horns on his head, orange eyes, a jagged tail, and two red spikes on his back, confirmed Kosmo's fears. "Masssster, Kossssmo issss here." he said, looking up towards the ceiling.

From the rafters, Bucky jumped down, using his electric powers to slow his descent! "Let me see him!" He said, pushing past Crash and Zipp in order to greet Copter and Kosmo. "Ah, what do we have here? I must say, I never expected to see you both together." he said upon seeing them. "Bucky! Hey, why'd Vortex only tell you about Kosmo? What am I, chopped liver?" Copter asked. Vortex had emerged from the shadows to greet them now. "Hanging out with Kossssmo? If you had a death wissssh, Copter, you could have came to sssssee Zipp." he hissed. "Seems to me I just did. Hey, Zipp." Copter replied, waving at Zipp. "If only Crash hadn't confiscated my shotgun! I'd give you a proper welcome!" Zipp chuckled. Kosmo looked around at his creator and fellow creations with contempt. "You know what? I think I'll be leaving now!" he growled. Bucky blocked his path as he turned to leave. "By all means, don't leave on account of me." he insisted. Copter frowned. "All right. We'll leave because of Vortex." he said. "Ssssshut up." Vortex snarled. Kosmo backed away from Bucky. "Don't even speak to me... None of you! You, who created me and then caged me! I want nothing to do with you!" he said threateningly. Bucky crossed his arms and glared at him. "I'm not too thrilled to see you either. But I have my reasons for being here, so I'll just have to live with it." he said. "Just why ARE you here?" Copter wondered. Before Bucky could reply, Basker turned to call them. "Kosmo! Copter! Come, it is time!" Copter and Kosmo left Bucky and approached the throne. "Time for what?" Kosmo growled, "If it's about joining you guys, I don't think I want to." Basker motioned to the throne. "Tell that to our master." he said. Suddenly, the throne burst into black flames, and began forming the shape of a creature! As the flames faded, a truly fearsome entity emerged. It was hooded, much like the Doomsayer and the Deathbringer, but this one's hood had three red stripes going along the sides and top. His cloak had a red collar, and his gloves were a dark red color. His shoes were red and grey, and he had a grey tail with a red furred tip. His hate-filled eyes glowed red as well, and were the only part of his face visible under his hood. Copter and Kosmo backed away a step, shocked by his appearance. The being first looked at Basker. "Basker... The mission ended in failure, did it not?" he said, with a demonic voice as fearsome as he was. Basker backed away as well, keeping his eyes fixed on this fearsome being as he did. "True, master. However, I have brought the morph." he said, pushing Copter and Kosmo forward. The mysterious being glared down at them from his throne. "Welcome, newcomers. I am the master of the Covenant of Despair. They call me...... The Darkseeker."

To be continued...


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