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Chapter 14 - The Lost Treasure of the Hill

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 14 - The Lost Treasure of the Hill

Chapter 14 - The Lost Treasure of the Hill
GeneX - Knuckles the Echidna
Chapter 14 - The Lost Treasure of the Hill
Minor Boss 5 - E-4X Firma
Boss 9 - Conan & Patch

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:
Upon returning to Eggman's base after his mission to Blue Ridge Zone, Knuckles found Sonic, who had just escaped from Super Eggman Land. Believing Knuckles to have been tricked by Eggman once again, Sonic soon got on the echidna's last nerve, and the two started brawling! After a little while, however, Eggman's forces returned to the base and snuck up on Sonic, capturing him! Now, Knuckles was forced to once again take on a mission for Eggman, though he was actually planning on busting Sonic out later, while the doctor's guard was down. Eggman sent Knuckles to Pumpkin Hill, where E-4X Firma sent him off to find Chaos Emeralds hidden in the area. Teaming up with Rouge, SPOT and Cream, Knuckles found 2 Chaos Emeralds and rescued Alpha and Crash from the Covenant of Despair's pranks. While on the way to the third emerald, Alpha and Crash repaid the favor, chasing off the Despair goons that tried to get in their way. Now, all they needed to do was to pick up the last emerald and report back to Firma.
Now, on to the next chapter!

Knuckles found himself climbing one of the towering spires that ended with an eerie, rock pumpkin at the top. SPOT had pointed the way to the Chaos Emerald, and once he climbed to the top, Knuckles found the yellow emerald at last. "Well, that wasn't so hard. Now I gotta get back and rescue Sonic as soon as possible." he said to himself. Looking down at the nearby Ghost Train Mountain, he saw that the spooky train was stopped near Rouge, Cream and SPOT. While Knuckles glided down to check it out, Cream and Cheese were giggling and running around, playing with the ghost that had been driving the train. As Knuckles arrived, he watched them with a dumbfounded expression. "Um... How did this happen?" he asked. Rouge shrugged. "Jasper there is a friendly ghost, apparently. Cream sure got over her fear of ghosts quick when he started getting chatty." she said. Knuckles seemed slightly disturbed, but turned his attention to SPOT. "Detect any more emeralds, mutt?" he asked. "No new signals detected." the text on SPOT's monitor read. "Good..." he sighed, glancing back in the direction the hot air balloon that took him to Pumpkin Hill was in. Cream suddenly ran up to them excitedly. "Mr. Jasper says we can have a ride on his train! C'mon, let's go!" she cheered. Knuckles glanced at the grinning Boom Boo conductor awkwardly, then cracked a nervous smile. "Great... Uh, Cream... Can you find out if the train goes back to the mountain we came from?" he asked, trying not to sound freaked out about this. "Sure! Just a second, Mr. Knuckles!" she replied cheerfully. Rouge smirked widely. "Looks like someone still has to get over HIS fear of ghosts!" she teased. "I am NOT scared of ghosts! I whupped the king of the ghosts at Eggman's pyramid!" he snapped. Rouge chuckled. "I heard you needed to turn the lights on... Was you scawed of the dawk, wittle Knukwes?" she taunted. Cream returned while Knuckles was growling. "Yup, the train can take us right back! ...Hey, why are you shaking? Don't worry, Mr. Knuckles. You don't have to be scared! Cheese and I are here for you!" she said, hopping off to the train while Rouge tried to contain her laughter. "Mustn't kill bat... Her ghost would never let me rest..." Knuckles growled.

They hopped aboard the platforms-on-wheels that comprised the ghost train's rear cars. "Hold on... to...uh... your balance." Knuckles muttered, looking around for a safety bar or something. The train started down the tracks for a bit before a ghostly aura surrounded it, carrying it into the air! "Well, Jasper wasn't kidding about taking us right back..." Rouge remarked. They couldn't relax during the flight, though; Some Lost Ones were floating around, and spotted them aboard the train! Appropriately, they were pumpkin-shaped losolanturns. These creepy ghosts flew towards the train, spewing fireballs from their mouths! Rouge immediately jumped into action, pulling out some bombs she'd been hiding on her person and lobbing them at the losolanturns, blowing several of them away! "You had BOMBS this whole time??" Knuckles asked. "Yeah, why?" she replied. "Never mind that! There's more monsters coming!" Cream shouted, holding on to Cheese fearfully. Knuckles leapt into the air and soared through the sky, punching out the pumpkins one by one as he passed by, then glided back to the train, landing gracefully. "There, how was that?" he smirked. An explosion overhead startled him, and when he looked around, Rouge was standing with a smug expression. "Missed one." she said. Fortunately, the train had just about arrived.

They politely thanked Jasper and headed for the hot air balloon. Not long after they'd left the train, they found their path blocked by Firma! "My sensors detect the three Chaos Emeralds in your possession." she said. Knuckles smiled awkwardly. "Uh, hey Irma! We were just on our way to take the emeralds to Eggman!" he said. "What??" Cream gasped, only to get Rouge's hand covering her mouth! "The poor thing's sleepy...hehe..." she chuckled. Firma just stood there. "I will take the emeralds from here." she said. Knuckles shook his head. "No way! I'm holding on to these until Sonic is set free!" he insisted. "Do not concern yourself with the hedgehog. He will not be harmed." Firma stated. "How do I know he hasn't been harmed already? I've been tricked by Eggman enough! Not today!!" Knuckles growled. Firma seemed to glare at him. "Acknowledged. Initiating appropriate response." she said, her hands transforming into huge, blunt steel fists! "Battle mode initiated!" she declared. Rouge dragged Cream back a few steps as the fight was about to start. "Outta the way, kiddo! Wouldn't want you to get hurt..." she said dubiously, grinning at the idea of scooping up the emeralds after both combatants exhausted themselves. Firma pounded the ground with her fist hard, the resulting shockwave causing the very earth to burst up violently for a distance, forcing Knuckles to jump the attack! "What was THAT??" he wondered. "I was designed to bend the very earth to my will!" Firma announced, picking up a large chunk of mud from the ground and winding up her arm in preparation to throw it! Knuckles jumped to a nearby mountain wall, climbing up to escape as Firma tossed the huge dirt clump! He safely avoided it, and was now high above Firma, but the robot simply walked to the mountain wall. "I will now proceed to crush you..." she said, hammering the wall with her massive fists, causing it to crack up! "Wh-what the??!! Avalanche!!!" Knuckles yelled, leaping off and gliding away as the rocks crumbled and fell on top of Firma, burying her! "Well... No one ever accuses Eggman of building smart robots." he said.

Suddenly, Firma burst out of the rocks! "...Heavy damage taken! Must return for repairs!" she murmured, "You will pay for this. Sonic will die!" she said in parting, speeding away! "Hey! Come back here! I warn you, if Sonic is harmed, Eggman will NEVER get these Chaos Emeralds!" Knuckles yelled. Suddenly, SPOT started beeping loudly. "Huh? NOW what!?" Knuckles groaned. "Alert!! Alert!!" SPOT was shouting. Cream looked at his monitor. "He says he senses another strong Chaos energy signal. Could it be another Chaos Emerald?" she wondered. Rouge shook her head. "No... I bet it's what the Covenant of Despair was here for!" she realized. Knuckles sighed. "Guess I better check it out then... And stop them!" he said, looking at SPOT's monitor to get an idea where he was going. Then, SPOT displayed another message. "I will attempt rescue of Sonic in the meantime. Good luck!" it said. As SPOT headed on his way, Knuckles, Rouge and Cream headed for the place where SPOT had detected the signal. It was a cave, and outside the cave, Alpha was hanging out. "Hi, Punchy! I've got those bats trapped in this bat cave! ...Should I watch out for boomerangs?" he babbled. Knuckles shrugged and walked past him, followed by Rouge and Cream. Alpha shrugged back and started to follow them as well. "If the bats get mad, tell them I'm just a harmless clown!" he said. "I sure will..." Rouge sighed.

The cave led to a chamber similar to the ones that held the Chaos Gauntlets and the tailbands. There were hieroglyphs all over the back wall, a few small broken statues here and there, and a pedestal that the Covenant of Despair members were gathered around, including Patch and Crash. A blue hyena with a black tail, spots and mane was there as well. He had grey eyes and a grey muzzle, and purple and green shoes. He was standing off to the side with a wide, toothy grin while Conan the raccoon was front and center, examining their find at the pedestal. It appeared to be a deck of cards. "These... These..." Conan muttered, seeming a bit flustered. "Eeeee hee hee! Mission complete?" the hyena asked. "These cards are forgeries! Pathetic forgeries, at that!" Conan roared, hurling them to the floor in disgust! "Someone must have already taken them! Bah!" he concluded. Knuckles gasped as he realized who's back he was looking at. "Conan?!" he shouted. The Covenant of Despair members turned to face him, Conan smiling as though relieved. "The Master Emerald guardian! How kind of you to bring us Chaos Emeralds!" he said. Rouge stepped forward. "Those emeralds are mine! Keep your hands off!" she shouted, finally sick of playing nice with Knuckles. "Oh, great... The battle of the thieves..." Knuckles sighed. "Eeeee hee... They won't share! What do you think of that?" the hyena said, glancing at Patch. "Hee hee! I'll share with them! Share my knife, that is!" the fox laughed. Crash looked around unsurely. "Should we really still be wasting time here?" he muttered. Knuckles scoffed at Patch and the hyena. "Laugh it up, you clowns. I'll clobber all of you!" he shouted. "Eeeee hee hee! Oh, you'll be fun! So I'll tell you my name. It's Eddie the Hyena!" the blue one replied. Patch pulled out a pair of nunchucks and spun them around as he rapped his introduction. "My name is Patch; and I'm gonna snatch; your pretty little rocks; and knock off your socks! Hee hee!" Conan drew his sword as well. "You don't stand a chance against us this time! Hand over the Chaos Emeralds and the Master Emerald now!" he growled. "Make us!" Rouge snapped. However, before anyone could do anything, an unexpected visitor flew in and took Knuckles by surprise! It was a brown griffin, with 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. "I'll take those Chaos Emeralds off your hands!" he shouted, wrestling them away from the surprised Knuckles! "Hey! What are you doing!?" he shouted. "Chaos Blast!" the griffin replied, knocking him away in order to secure his escape! "Gaaaah!! The Chaos Emeralds!!" Knuckles shouted. "My name is Talon the Griffin. If you want the Chaos Emeralds back, you'd better remember it!" the griffin said before swiftly flying out of the cave! "THIEF!!" Knuckles shouted. "My emeralds!!" Rouge added, devastated. "What's a Griffith? Did he used to work for kids?" Alpha muttered. Conan frowned. "That was unexpected... Any thoughts, Eddie?" he asked. The hyena shrugged. "Eeeee hee hee... I guess I'll have to take a rain check on this beating. I'll go after this 'Talon!'" he said, running past Knuckles to chase the griffin. "Eeeeeeeeee hee! Hope to fight you later!" Eddie cackled.

Conan swiped his sword angrily. "This mission keeps getting more aggravating! You'd best hand over the Master Emerald, or else!" he yelled. "Oh, yeah?" Knuckles growled. "We'll see about that!" Rouge added. The bats in the room flapped their wings and glared menacingly. "We'll back ya up, boss!" they said. "I'm tired of carving pumpkins. I think I'll carve YOU! Hee hee!" Patch added. Cream, who'd been watching from the back of the cave the whole time, stepped in slowly. "Cheese, we'd better help out! No more hiding!" she said. Just then, Patch hopped down and started swinging his nunchucks around gracefully, threatening Cream. "Hee hee! I'm gonna crack up the Easter bunny!" he laughed. "That... doesn't make sense... Cheese! Help!" Cream yelped, leading Cheese to grab the other end of Patch's nunchucks, fighting over them! "Hey! That's not supposed to happen!! Gimmie those so I can bludgeon you with them!!" he shouted. Meanwhile, Conan had started battling with Knuckles much like their previous fight in the tunnels beneath Tails's Workshop, and Rouge was busy fighting off the bats. This left Crash and Alpha, neither of whom really had a stake in this anymore with the Chaos Emeralds gone and no other treasure in the cave, but Alpha was too kooky to leave without a fight. "All right, you bandicoot! I'll blast you back to the unemployment line!" Alpha shouted. Crash scratched his head under his bowler. "I'm a rhino... I don't even know what a bandicoot is!! Never mind. Maybe smashing Eggman's robot is a worthy cause..." he said before charging at Alpha, only to be leapt over and attacked with a spray of laser fire! "I DON'T KNOW WHAT A BANDICOOT IS EITHER!!" he yelled. He then fell over when Conan zapped him with a Chaos Spear from his sword! "No random yelling! I'm trying to concentrate!" he said, only to get sucker-punched by Knuckles! "Concentrate on that!" he yelled. "Leave it to you to resort to cheating! That little inferiority complex must be hard on you." Conan snapped. "Wha??" Knuckles muttered. "It is. Very hard on him." Rouge said as she threw a bat into a wall. "Is this a fight or a therapy session!? Shut it, both of ya!!" Knuckles shouted. "Suit yourself. Now, die!" Conan replied, thrusting his sword back at Knuckles!

The brawl went on for a while, the only ones willing to call it quits being the bats, who Rouge left quite battered and beaten after a while. Conan was getting frustrated as Rouge flew over, ready to involve herself in their fight. "You twit! Why won't you die!?" he growled. "Ha! Give it up, Conan!" Knuckles scoffed. "Never!!" Conan shouted. "Sheesh, he's as stubborn as you are, Knuckles..." Rouge remarked. "You'll pay for getting in my way! Now, the kid gloves are coming off! Get over here, Patch and Crash!" Conan shouted, gathering his reinforcements to him. "Hee hee! Now you get to die in this creepy place like in a bad horror movie!" Patch teased. "I don't like the sound of that..." Cream whimpered. Alpha had a decidedly different reaction. "This oughta be good! Someone gimme some popcorn!" he said. "Come on! I'm tired of this! Go home, Conan!" Knuckles groaned. "Not without the Master Emerald!" Conan insisted. "Then stay all you want. It oughta be fun." came a voice from seemingly nowhere! Looking around, they all saw Lospecter emerge through the back wall of the cave, grinning mischievously. "Howdy, fellas. What might bring all of you into such a dark and dismal cave?" he asked. "Lospecter?! Not you again!" Knuckles shouted. Conan groaned himself. "Ugh! Lost One... Wait, what's that in your hands?" he gasped. Lospecter was holding the cards he always held, which looked suspiciously like the forgeries Conan was looking at when Knuckles and his companions came in. "Oh, these? Heh. Sorry, losers. I found the Chaos Cards ages ago! They let me do all kinds of cool things. Like this!" Lospecter chuckled, tossing a card to summon a swarm of Losolanturns into the room, which quickly surrounded everyone! While the Despair members were reacting with alarm, Rouge was glancing at the exit. "I think it's time for me to bail from this dump..." she muttered. "Yeah, me too..." Knuckles added. "Bah! Insolent slime! You have no business holding those cards! I'll slice them out of your hands!" Conan shouted, pointing his sword at Lospecter! "Ho ho ho! Sounds like you're askin' to become a Lost One!" the ghost chuckled.

Knuckles tapped Cream on the shoulder and motioned for the exit. "Let's go while Lospecter's occupied!" he suggested. Cream nodded in agreement, and while they and Rouge were sneaking toward the way out, they were joined by Crash. "These guys are not worth all this. I'm out of here." he muttered. "Calling all Lost Ones! We've got runaways!" Lospecter yelled loudly, prompting the group to break out into a run! "You look hungry, ghost! Eat laser!!" was the last thing they heard from Alpha as they retreated into the cave tunnel, pursued by the ghostly pumpkins, the losolanturns! They spewed blue ghost fire at the walls, which spread rapidly, covering the walls the whole way ahead of them! "Keep in the center of the cave as much as possible!!" Crash warned. "I want my mommy!!" Cream cried. Knuckles looked back and yelped, ducking as a fireball was shot at his head! "We gotta get rid of these guys!" he yelled. Rouge sighed and glanced back, tossing one more of her bombs at the pursuing losolanturns. The explosion took out some and seemed to disorient the others, buying them the time they needed to escape the cave! "I hope your happy, Knuckles! I wasted all my bombs, and not even one little gem for my trouble!" she grumbled. "You're not getting the Master Emerald!" Knuckles snapped. "Well, you better believe I'm not gonna let you forget how you owe me!!" she retorted. As they escaped the cave, Crash kept running. "I gotta report to my master. Thanks for the assistance!" he yelled. Rouge flew off in a huff without another word, leaving Knuckles with Cream. "Firma probably took the hot air balloon, so I guess I'll be taking you home the long way..." Knuckles sighed. "Or I could talk to Jasper again..." Cream suggested. "Uh... No thanks..." Knuckles murmured awkwardly. As they started on their way to the nearest city, Knuckles thought about everything that had happened, and knew what he still had to do. "Hang on, Sonic! I'm coming to rescue you!" he promised.

To be continued...


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