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Chapter 5 - Cold Metal

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 5 - Cold Metal

Chapter 5 - Cold Metal
GeneX - Knuckles the Echidna
Chapter 5 - Cold Metal
Stage 5(Hero 3) - Frostbite Maze
Minor Boss 1 - Metal Sonic

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, a mysterious group bent on destroying all humans, attacked Angel Island with the intention of stealing the Master Emerald. With help from an orange coati, Knuckles managed to escape with the emerald. Hoping to hide the Master Emerald, Knuckles visited Tails at his workshop, only to have the Covenant of Despair find him again! Tails led Knuckles into the tunnels beneath his workshop just before the covenant set it ablaze, and soon they found the Tornado 3. Now, Tails and Knuckles are flying over the Mystic Ruins with the intention of challenging the Covenant of Despair at the floating island they came from...
Now, on to the next chapter!

As the Tornado soared through the sky above the Mystic Ruins, Tails was looking in vain for the island Knuckles had spoken of. "I don't see it! Where is this second island, Knuckles?" he asked. Knuckles looked in the direction he recalled seeing the island. "Hmmm... WHAT!? The island's gone!" he realized. Tails continued flying in the direction of Angel Island. "A whole island can't just disappear. It must have moved!" he said. "Well, obviously. But how can they move a whole island? Heck, how'd they even get it in the air without the Master Emerald?" Knuckles wondered. "I don't know, but now we need a new plan. Where should we go?" Tails asked. Before either of them could think about that, something hit the side of the plane hard! "Aaaah!! What just hit us!?" Tails shouted, trying to regain control of the plane as it began plummeting to the ground! "Tails! You gotta try to land this thing!!" Knuckles shouted. SPOT began beeping in a panicky fashion. "Danger!! Danger!!" the robot shouted. "You got that right, SPOT! We're gonna crash!!" Tails yelled.

Some time later, Tails and Knuckles awoke inside a small cage. "Ugh... What happened? Where are we?" Knuckles muttered, looking around. They were inside a medium-sized room with computers and monitors along one of the walls. Along the wall to the left of the monitors were several shelves lined with books and various bits of equipment. The table in the center of the room was littered with blueprints and tools. A familiar symbol on the walls made it all too clear where they were. It was one of Eggman's bases! "Huh? How did this happen?" Tails muttered, still somewhat dazed. Knuckles began shaking the bars angrily. "Never mind how! We need to get out of here!" he growled. Tails tugged him by the arm to get his attention. "Quiet! Someone's coming!" he said. Several shadows emerged at the doorway. "Good morning, everyone! Time for dinner!" said the owner of the first shadow as he entered. It was Alpha! "Dinner? Don't be silly, Alpha! It's lunch time!" said Char, who was next to enter the room. A frustrated sigh was heard coming from the next person to enter the room. "There goes my dramatic introduction..." said Dr. Eggman.

Three others entered the room behind Eggman, but Tails and Knuckles paid no attention to them. They were too focused on the diabolical doctor in front of them. "Dr. Eggman! Hey! Let me outta here, right now!" Knuckles yelled threateningly. Eggman pulled up a chair and sat down in front of the cage. "Let you go? Not until you tell me what you were doing flying around MY airspace!" he said. Tails looked very confused. "Your airspace? What are you talking about!?" he asked. Eggman got up from his seat angrily. "Don't play dumb! After all, whose flying fortress shot you down, hm?" he yelled. Tails backed away from Eggman a step. "Oh... Makes sense... Hey! Wait! Where's the Tornado!? Where's SPOT!?" he asked. "In storage. Now, back to the main topic...." Eggman started to say. "Excuse me, doctor." someone interrupted. The speaker, an orange coati, emerged from behind Eggman. Behind him, a blue porcupine that resembled Sonic followed. He had yellow eyes, black gloves, and black boots. It was Spiny the Porcupine! "What are you doing!?" he whispered to the coati. Tails briefly glanced at Spiny. "Huh? Hey! Sonic's here!" he said. "WHO SAID THAT!? LEMME AT 'EM!!" Spiny yelled, trying to push past the coati without success. "I don't think that's Sonic, Tails." Knuckles pointed out. Eggman turned to his bickering companions. "Calm down, Spiny! It's an honest mistake." he said, "Those are two new associates of mine: Spiny the Porcupine and Ridley the Coati." Knuckles recognized the coati from earlier that day. "Ridley..." he muttered. "If I may, Doctor. It would seem to me that these two were not aware of our presence at the Mystic Ruins." Ridley said, pointing at Knuckles. "Also, that is Knuckles the Echidna, is it not? Perhaps we can make a deal with him. His treasure hunting talents could be useful." Eggman looked back at Knuckles. "Well, obviously. But why were you two flying around the Mystic Ruins in the first place?" he asked. "We weren't looking for you. We were going after the Covenant of Despair!" Tails explained. Knuckles nodded in agreement. "Yeah, he's right! Now, let us go, or I'll have to go through you!" he threatened. Eggman glared at Knuckles. "Watch that temper! Covenant of Despair you say? Hmmm.... Really, now..... Well, that changes things! Now, tell me, what would you say if I told you we're on the same side?" he asked. Tails scoffed at him. "Yeah, right! I bet this is just another one of your tricks!" he said. Eggman looked hurt. "Tricks? Would I do something like that?" he asked. Alpha raised his hands excitedly. "Absolutely!" he shouted. Eggman groaned at this. "Char, take Alpha for a walk." he said. The Chao led Alpha out of the room, calling him like a pet dog. "C'mon, Alphie! Here, boy!" Once he was gone, Eggman turned his attention back to his captives. "OK, so I haven't the best track record... But, really, would I be on the side of human-haters?" he reasoned. Ridley agreed. "Listen, now. We can all help each other, you know." he said. Eggman smiled. "Yes, if you help me, I'll find Despair's headquarters for you! And fix your plane, to boot!" he offered. Tails frowned. "I don't know about this..." he muttered. Knuckles shrugged. "Well, it beats being stuck in this cell. Besides... It doesn't seem like Eggman's lying this time..." he pointed out. "Well... Maybe..." Tails said without confidence. "What do you want from us, Eggman?" Knuckles asked. Spiny looked upset. "Y-you aren't really... Going to let them out!?" he grumbled. Eggman motioned to a robot behind him. It was an orange robot with a pink head and purple eyes, which resembled Omega. "Firma, open the cell." he instructed. "Acknowledged." Firma replied in a feminine robot voice. The robot walked over to a control panel and pressed a button. Seconds later, the door to the cage swung open. "That's better." Knuckles muttered, stepping out of the cage. Eggman shook hands with Knuckles. "Just like old times, pal! Now, I want you to head for the Blue Ridge Zone. There, one of my robots will lead you to a secret ruins that has recently been discovered there. Within, your treasure hunting skills will surely lead you to the Chaos Gauntlets. Bring those back to me!" he ordered. "Right... And if I bring back the 'Chaos Gauntlets'.... You'll return the Tornado?" Knuckles asked. "And SPOT?" Tails added. Eggman nodded. "Yes, and I'm even being gracious enough to let you keep the Master Emerald! Now, get going!" he said. Ridley waved to Knuckles and Tails as they left the room. "Good luck." he said.

As they exited Eggman's base, Tails and Knuckles found themselves in an unfamiliar area. Oddly, they appeared to be in the middle of a city! "Huh? Hey, where's this base located...?" Knuckles wondered, looking around. He could see what appeared to be a police station a few blocks away. Seeing this, the two of them both looked back at the building Eggman's base was located in. Tails was shocked. "I don't believe it! Not only did Eggman build a base right in the middle of a city, but..." Knuckles finished his sentence for him. "He has a big, flashing sign on it! Doesn't he think he'll be caught here?" Eggman's base contained a large sign with his symbol on it, and the word "Eggtopia" written in big flashing lights. "That's what things are like here in Troblusk City." said someone behind them. They turned to see a young, yellow porcupine. He had blue eyes and blue shoes. "Hm? Troblusk City? Never heard of it." Knuckles said. Tails looked a little concerned. "I have. It's supposed to be this really dangerous city. Crime levels are so high here, it's no wonder Eggman was able to build a base unopposed." he explained. The yellow porcupine rubbed his eyes in disbelief when he realized who they were. "W-wow! You're.... You're Tails and Knuckles, aren't you?" he gasped. "You've heard of us?" Tails said with surprise. "Are you kidding? You're friends of Sonic! Everyone's heard of you! Even here!" the porcupine replied. Knuckles rolled his eyes. "Yeah, yeah. We don't have time for autographs!" he said. Tails ignored Knuckles's remark. "What's your name?" he asked the porcupine. "I'm Tommy. My bro is Razor, a police officer here in this city. We actually live in Station Square, though." he said. "If you live in Station Square, then why are you in a dangerous city like this?" Tails asked. Knuckles was growing impatient. "Tails! We gotta go!!" he groaned. Tommy answered Tails's question. "I was just visiting my brother. I'm waiting for my ride home now. But she's a taxi driver, and she has to put her passengers first." he explained. "Well, we're heading for Station Square now, too. Want to come with us?" Tails offered. "Taaaails!!!" Knuckles whined. Tommy ignored Knuckles. "Really? Is that OK? Thank you! I'll just call Mia on my cell phone and let her know I don't need a ride anymore!" While Tommy was tinkering with his cell phone, Knuckles pulled Tails aside. "Tails, you have a big mouth! We don't have time to baby-sit!" he said. "Good thing Tommy's not a baby, then. Look at him! He's about the same age as me!" Tails replied. Knuckles groaned loudly. "Fine, but he better not slow us down!" he said. Meanwhile, Tommy wrapped up his call. "OK! Bye, Mia! Man, she sure is jealous I got to meet you guys! Could you write an autograph for her?" he asked. Knuckles glared at Tails. "I hate you sometimes, Tails, you know that?"

Tommy actually proved to be a bit helpful, as he was able to lead them to the train station. Soon they reached Station Square, and began nearing Blue Ridge Zone in the north. Soon, Tommy was ready to leave them behind. "All right! My house is right around the corner! Thanks for taking me, Tails! You too, Knuckles!" he said. Knuckles sighed with relief. "Right.... Stay out of trouble, kid!" he told him. Tails waved as he and Knuckles left Tommy behind. "Bye!" he said. As they were walking away, an orange cheetah wearing a red jacket and red pants approached Tommy. He had green eyes, white gloves, and black sneakers. It was Chet. "Hey, there, Tommy! How's Razor holding up?" he asked. Before he could answer, a black coyote girl wearing a sleeveless purple shirt and short jeans ran up to them. She had brown eyes and blue shoes. It was Katie. "Eeeeeeeee!! Tommy, was that Tails and Knuckles I just saw go by!?" she asked excitedly. Tommy nodded. "Yeah! They brought me home! Isn't that cool?" he said. Chet looked at Katie with worry. "Uh, oh.... Katie's gonna...." Before he could say anything else, Katie started jumping with excitement. "Wow wow wow!! Friends of Sonic himself! Just think, if I hurry, I might be able to get an interview!" she shouted, running off after Tails and Knuckles! Chet watched her run off. "There she goes! Off on the hunt for news! Poor Tails and Knuckles..." he said. "Should we go after her?" Tommy asked. Chet started acting excited, too. "Yeah! I want to meet Knuckles!" With that, they both took off after Katie.

Meanwhile, Tails and Knuckles had arrived at Blue Ridge Zone. They hadn't been walking long before they encountered a robot. It was a light blue Gizoid, with a purple horn and yellow eyes. Eggman's symbol was on its chest. "You must be Eggman's robot." Knuckles said. The robot spoke with a chilling voice. "I am E-6X. Also known as Freeze. I am to show you to the ruins, where the Chaos Gauntlets are hidden." he explained. "All right. Lead the way!" Knuckles replied. "Follow me." Freeze instructed, jumping up to a high cliff with surprising speed! "Hey! Wait up!" Knuckles shouted. "There is no time to waste." Freeze said, running off. "He's no help..." Knuckles groaned. "Let's just head in that direction!" Tails suggested.

Freeze's trail eventually led them to a snowbound area to the west of the Blue Ridge Zone. Nestled in this cold, mountainous region was a huge ancient ruin. It was the ruins of a city surrounded by a large wall. Just outside the gate to this ruined city, Tails and Knuckles found a familiar face. "Rouge!? What are YOU doing here!?" Knuckles yelled. Rouge the Bat was examining the locked gate leading into the ruins, but turned around when Knuckles spoke to her. "Nice to see you again, too, Knuckles." she said sarcastically. Tails waved at Rouge politely. "Hi, Rouge! Are you here looking for the-" Before he could finish, Knuckles put his hand over his mouth. "Shut it!! It's none of her business!!" he yelled. Rouge smiled at them. "You must be here to find the Chaos Gauntlets, too. Sorry, pal, but this is MY mission!" she told them. "Mission?" Knuckles asked. "For the President. Not sure why he wants them, or how he knows about them, but he did promise some nice jewels..." Rouge explained. "If we're all looking for the same thing, why don't we help each other?" Tails asked. Rouge laughed at him. "Aw, how cute. Tails, you always were pretty naive!" she said. Tails looked confused. "What?" he muttered. Rouge rolled her eyes. "Oh, all right. I'll tell you what Shadow and I figured out." she said. Knuckles looked around. "Shadow's here, too!? I didn't know he was into jewels." he said. Rouge stomped her foot loudly. "Don't interrupt me, Knuckles! Here's what we found out. In order to get into the room with the Gauntlets, you need the three ancient relics that are the keys to the ruins. So, whoever finds them first gets the prize! Good luck, Knuxie! You'll need it!" With her explanation complete, Rouge flew over the gate and into the ruins. Knuckles shook his fist at her as she left. "Bring it on, Rouge! I can out treasure-hunt you any day!" he shouted. "I'm not so sure of that, Knuckles..." Tails murmured. Suddenly, a beeping was heard nearby. "Tails detected!" said the robotic voice of SPOT! Tails ran over to the robot excitedly. "SPOT! How'd you get away from Eggman?" he asked. The text on SPOT's monitor told his story. "I bit him. His robots chased me, but the malfunctioning one confused the others." Knuckles walked towards the gate of the ruins. "Great. You got your toy back. You play with it while I find those relics." he said. Tails ran after Knuckles with SPOT following. "SPOT can help us, Knuckles! SPOT, we're looking for the relics that open a door!" he said. SPOT beeped loudly. "Signals detected!" it said. "It works? OK, fine... You can come. If you can get over the gate." he sighed. "Wait, Knuckles! SPOT says the first relic is outside the ruins! Uh... That way!" Tails said, leading the way.

Soon, they arrived at the foot of a large, icy cliff. On a ledge halfway up the cliff, they could see a shiny object. SPOT's sensor indicated that it was probably one of the relics, though they really had no idea what the relics looked like and if they even gave off signals that SPOT could pick up. "Well, I guess I'd better try to climb up there..." Knuckles decided. However, this plan was interrupted by a laser being fired in their direction! Tails and Knuckles looked in the direction the laser came from and saw Metal Sonic heading towards them! "Hey, what's with Metal Sonic!? Why is he even here!? Eggman already sent Freeze!" Knuckles groaned. Tails shrugged. "Maybe Metal Sonic's on a different mission. Or maybe Eggman doesn't trust us, and Metal Sonic thinks we're up to something because we're not inside the ruins." he said. Metal Sonic made some robotic noises, which didn't sound friendly. "Well, he sure doesn't seem happy to see us..." Knuckles pointed out. Metal Sonic confirmed this by firing another laser blast at Knuckles! SPOT quickly brought up a shield to block the laser, while Knuckles shook his fist at Metal Sonic. "Have it your way, bolts for brains! Tails, can you fly up and get the relic while I distract him?" he asked. Tails glanced up at the ledge. "It's a little high, but I'll try!" he said.

Metal Sonic started the battle by shooting several lasers at Knuckles, which he avoided with some difficulty. Knuckles attempted to get close enough to punch him, but Metal Sonic quickly ran out of his range before he could. "So that's how it's gonna be? Fine, then..." Knuckles said, kneeling down to scoop up some snow. Metal Sonic fired a few more shots at him, so Knuckles quickly moved aside. Then, he threw a snowball at Metal Sonic! The snowball smacked into his eyes, temporarily blinding him! "Ha! Direct hit!" Using the opportunity, Knuckles ran up to Metal Sonic and punched him in his metallic chest! As the robot fell over, it began shooting at random, knocking Knuckles aside and nearly hitting Tails as he was flying to the ledge! "Yikes! That was too close!" Tails yelped. He was nearing the ledge, but his tails were beginning to grow tired. "Uh oh... I'm gonna fall!" he shouted. Hearing his master's call, SPOT transformed its paws slightly, turning them into small thrusters that allowed him to fly up to Tails and carry him the rest of the way to the ledge! "Whew... Thanks, SPOT!" Tails said, resting a moment before picking up the relic. It looked like a small ice crystal, but with writing etched into it. The writing was in a strange language that Tails couldn't read. "Yep, this must be the relic." he said before shouting down to Knuckles, "I got it!" Knuckles had begun fighting with Metal Sonic again already, but looked up at Tails briefly. "Great! Now we just gotta deal with Metal Sonic!" While Knuckles was distracted, Metal Sonic jumped into the air and mimicked Sonic's homing attack to knock Knuckles over! He then aimed his laser at Knuckles's head. "Watch out!" Tails shouted as he and SPOT arrived back on the ground. "I know that!" Knuckles groaned. Metal Sonic made a few threatening noises before moving closer to Knuckles, still aiming the laser at his head. "Close enough!" Knuckles yelled, grabbing some snow and hurling it at Metal Sonic! Once again blinded, Metal Sonic fired his laser and missed! While Metal Sonic brushed the snow from his eyes, Knuckles stood back up and prepared to continue the fight.

As Metal Sonic began approaching Tails and Knuckles again, he started beeping. His eye monitor began displaying some text. "{Receiving command...}" it read. The text was too small for Knuckles to see from a distance. "Hey, what's going on?" he wondered, slowly lowering his guard. More text appeared on the monitor a second later. "{New directive: assist Knuckles.}" it read. "Helloooooo? Metal Sonic?" Knuckles said, unsure of what was happening. Metal Sonic lowered his laser and made some robotic noises, somewhat friendlier than before. "I really wish Eggman hadn't taken away his ability to talk..." Knuckles groaned, looking confused. Tails cautiously approached Metal Sonic. "He's calmed down... Maybe he's received new orders from Eggman." he realized. Knuckles scratched his head. "Does that mean he'll help us?" he asked. Metal Sonic nodded to confirm this. "Oh... Good, I guess." Knuckles said without enthusiasm. SPOT ran up to Metal Sonic angrily, making a growling sound as he did. "What's with him?" Knuckles asked. "He's programmed not to trust Eggman's robots." Tails explained, walking over to SPOT. "It's OK, SPOT. Don't worry about Metal Sonic. We need you to lead us to the next relic." he said. SPOT began beeping as he attempted to locate the relic. "Signal detected." Looking at SPOT's monitor, Tails saw that the next relic was inside the ruins somewhere. "Looks like we gotta go in there now." he said. Knuckles started heading back towards the gate to the ruins. "Let's go then, Tails! And... uh... Metal Sonic. And... SPOT..." he said. Metal Sonic glanced at SPOT briefly before following Knuckles. As he did, SPOT began growling again. "Hmmm... Maybe I need to adjust SPOT's programming..." Tails muttered, following behind the others.

When they reached the gate, Metal Sonic used his laser to blast it open. Knuckles, having observed this, had an idea. "Hey, what if instead of finding these relics, we just have Metal Sonic blast the door to the Chaos Gauntlets?" he suggested. Tails shook his head. "Rouge came here with Shadow, remember? If he can't blast through the door, it probably can't be broken." he pointed out. SPOT began beeping louder as they entered the walls of the ruined city. "Chaos energy detected!" he said, rushing to the first building directly in front of the gate. The door contained three indentations in the shape of the relic they'd found. "That must be the door to the gauntlets! Sure was easy to find." Knuckles said. Metal Sonic aimed his laser at the door and fired, only to have the shot bounce off and nearly hit Knuckles! "Aaaah!! OK, bad idea!" he grumbled. "Told ya." Tails said, "Which way to the relic, SPOT?" The robot looked around. The buildings within the walls of the ruins were arranged to form a giant maze, and navigating it might be tricky. After a moment, SPOT began walking to the right. Tails, Knuckles, and Metal Sonic followed, but before they could get far, several creatures swarmed out from inside the buildings! They were large jellyfish creatures made up of pure chaos energy, each with three glowing red eyes! They were Chaos Guardians, much like the foes Tails had encountered in the Chaos Shrine! "What are these things doing here!?" Tails shouted fearfully. "Maybe they're mad because Metal Sonic broke the gate!" Knuckles said. Metal Sonic immediately began shooting at them, but it had little effect. While the others were worrying about the Chaos Guardians, SPOT began running though the swarm in the direction of the relic! "H-hey! SPOT! Don't leave without us!" Tails shouted. "Heck with it! Let's just try to follow him!" Knuckles decided, charging through the swarm of guardians in SPOT's direction. Tails and Metal Sonic followed, ducking and dodging the flailing tentacles of the Chaos Guardians as they went! Metal Sonic fired several shots ahead of them, causing the guardians to move out of the way, allowing them to continue moving with less resistance.

Back at the entrance, Katie, Chet and Tommy tiptoed their way inside the ruins. "Okay... The coast is clear!" Katie whispered. "It's cold. Can't I go back and get my winter coat?" Tommy muttered, shivering. Katie looked around cautiously. "Tails and Knuckles are getting away! I gotta catch up with them!" she grumbled. Chet sighed. "Isn't being the first reporter to explore these ruins what you should really be all excited about?" he wondered. The three of them crept to the sealed door that the three relics were needed to open, and after a moment's thought, they started wandering to the left. "Um, aren't the footprints going that way?" Tommy tried to point out, but Katie shushed him. "I'm trying to concentrate, Tom! Shush!" she said. Chet frowned. "This better not end like when we tried to work out the corn maze at the Autumn Fair..." he whimpered.

It took some doing, but they eventually managed to elude the Chaos Guardians. Soon after, SPOT led them to a path leading to what appeared to be a dead end. It was a particularly icy area, and Tails and Knuckles found it somewhat difficult to keep from slipping. However, they could see the relic waiting at the end of the path, so they did their best to move forward. Metal Sonic seemed to have no difficulty on the ice, and was the first to reach the relic. "OK, Metal Sonic! Pick that up so we can get off this ice!" Knuckles said. Metal Sonic glanced back at him, making robotic noises that sounded confused. "The relic! Pick up the relic!" Knuckles yelled. Tails held out the other relic to show it to Metal Sonic. "This! The second one's over there! Pick it up!" he said. Finally understanding, Metal Sonic leaned over to pick it up, only to have SPOT snatch it first! Metal Sonic reacted with some angry noises, to which SPOT replied by growling. "Oh, brother..." Knuckles groaned, "You two behave! Or... we'll make you take a time out!" Tails chuckled softly. "It's OK guys! As long as one of us has the relic! Now let's go find the last one!" he said. Suddenly, some gaseous spirits emerged from the wall at the dead end! Their hands were disconnected from their bodies, and their sudden appearance scared Tails. "Ghosts!! Run!!" he yelled, slipping on the ice and falling as he tried to run. Knuckles helped him up. "Don't be a coward! Those aren't ghosts! They're just some of those Lost Ones!" he pointed out. SPOT and Metal Sonic ran away from the ghosts, which were Lospirits, and stopped when they reached Tails and Knuckles. Metal Sonic took on a defensive stance, prompting Tails and Knuckles to look behind them. The Chaos Guardians had arrived, and were blocking the way out! With the ice making it unlikely that they could fight their way out, both Tails and Knuckles began to look worried. "Tails... If we get out of this... Remind me to punch Eggman in the face later!" Knuckles growled.

To be continued...


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