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Chapter 41 - Storming the Castle

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 41 - Storming the Castle

Chapter 41 - Storming the Castle
GeneX - Knuckles the Echidna
Chapter 41 - Storming the Castle
Stage 23(Hero 12) - Despair Castle
Minor Boss 19 - Terra & Firma

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, having stolen the Master Emerald, the Chaos Crystal, the GXterminate machine, and gotten Dr. Eggman to kidnap Bucky on their behalf, have fortified their island stronghold above Station Square, preparing for their endgame.
However, a band of heroes have infiltrated Demon Island, and set out to put a stop to Despair's schemes once and for all! Now, Sonic and Knuckles are nearing the main entrance to Despair Castle. Do they have what it takes to succeed in a daring forward assault?
Now, on to the next chapter!

Sonic, Tails and Knuckles, joined by Gemini, had reached the front gate to Despair castle. "Well, now that we're here, what do we do? Knock at the door?" Knuckles wondered. Sonic shrugged and nonchalantly knocked at the door. "Yeah, like they're really gonna just let us in..." Tails sighed. A familiar voice called from the other side of the doorway. "Hahaha! Who iiiiis it??" Char said in a singsong voice. Sonic groaned softly. "Char... How'd you get to be the doorman?" he wondered. Char chuckled. "Eggman worked a miracle to get us back in the covenant's good graces! I bet he's got a brilliant plan... I got a pretty sneaky plan myself!" he snickered, pulling the door open! "Huh?? He's just...letting us in?" Gemini gasped. Char had a big grin on his face. "This'll teach those goons for tryin' to kidnap me! Hurry inside before someone sees ya!" he said. Sonic and Knuckles shrugged, leading Tails and Gemini into the castle's entrance hall. It was pretty empty; Apparently Despair's agents were busy guarding more important areas. "Well... Thanks, Char." Sonic muttered. Char nodded. "Oh! Before you go... Look out in here. Eggman's robots were added to the staff, and so were some GUN robots brought by a crazy scientist." he warned. Tails scratched his head. "You're being unusually helpful..." he muttered. "I hate this place, and I want out!" Char complained, "If you're looking for all the loot the covenant swiped, I'm afraid they got it scattered around the castle to make it tough to find. Well, I'm outta here so I can claim I was in the bathroom when you broke in. Bye!" he said, fluttering away. Knuckles crossed his arms. "Figuring out where to go first could be impossible... Maybe Bucky would be able to help us if we could free him." he figured. Sonic looked around the entrance hall, trying to decide which way to go first. "Yeah... He was a big help during the Kosmo and Soleanna fiascos... Even if he did try to zap me last time I saw him." he murmured. Gemini pointed to the path straight ahead. "Let's just head as deep into the castle as we can and see what we find! Hopefully we find the copy of my wand before it gets used in that doomsday weapon again!" she said.

Despair Castle was painted with a lot of black and red, with the thirteen-pointed star of Despair as a main focal point of the decor. There were doors and pathways everywhere. It was a massive place. As Sonic and company proceeded down a long hallway, a bright light shone from an adjoining hallway, and SPOT scampered out to greet them, sitting at Tails's feet. "Hey, where have you been??" Tails wondered. Just then, Sonic found himself tackle-hugged by Amy. "It's the light at the end of the tunnel!! You have no idea what I had to endure to find you again, Sonic!" she cried, squeezing him tightly. Cream was close behind her, and met Tails with a much gentler hug. Silver had also come out, and Gemini gave him a friendly hug as well. "Silver! It's been too long!" she smiled. Zipp the hornet was with them as well. Knuckles took one look at him and said "I ain't huggin' ya." To which he stuck out his tongue. When the cuddly reunion was over, they took a moment to question why Zipp was there. "Aside from the fact that my brilliance got them in here in the first place... I split up with my team to look for Bucky. Duh." Zipp explained. Suddenly, a loud thud was heard from the adjoining hallway across from them. "Awww, did I miss the hugs? I wanted one! Well... I guess we can still be friends and play." The crazed robotic voice was all too familiar. "Oh, no... Alpha!" Sonic turned around, and sure enough, the thud was Alpha landing behind them. He was accompanied by some of Eggman's most recent creations: Egg Fighters! They were used a lot during Eggman's plot to unleash Dark Gaia, and now the blue robots were back for more! Tails looked at this army and decided to try something crazy. "...ALPHA!! Look out behind you!!" he shouted. Alpha turned his head around and, seeing the Egg Fighters, let out a robotic scream. "Everything is blue!!! It's an evil conspiracy!! Save me, blue hedgehog!!" he yelled before flying up into the air, acrobatically flipping around near the high ceiling. "Uh... I don't know if that was good thinking or not, Tails." Sonic said, scratching his head. "Me neither..." Tails admitted.

As a battle started to break out in the hall, the noise drew the attention of some Despair agents, who came to observe from a balcony above. They were Conan the raccoon and Anubis the jackal. "Sonic... He has proven every bit as persistent as that doctor warned us..." Anubis growled. "And look, that pathetic excuse for a hunter has come to get back his emerald. How quaint." Conan grinned. Anubis started to raise his hands. "I must summon my servants..." he snarled. "Hold on, there... Wouldn't it be prudent to put a guard on all those valuable Chaos Relics we've been gathering?" Conan suggested. Anubis glanced at him with a serious look. "It is in good hands." he stated. "It could be in better hands... You wouldn't happen to know where they're being held...?" Conan asked. Anubis glared at him. "...Safe from the likes of you!" he growled. Sighing, Conan drew his Chaos Sword and shot some Chaos Spears at Anubis, making him waste some fiery blasts on blocking them so that he'd have an opening to kick the jackal off the balcony! "Gaaaaaaahhh!! Traaaaaitoooor!!!" Anubis roared, bursting into flames as he crashed onto an Egg Fighter! "Hey... What's up, Anubis?" Sonic waved. Conan glanced down and waved melodramatically. "Good bye, Covenant of Despair! I begin the ultimate treasure hunt now! Thanks so much for gathering so many of the Chaos Relics in one place! And fox boy... I know you've got the second Chaos Tailband! I'll get them both soon enough!" he shouted before escaping somewhere in the upper floors of the castle. Silver stared up at the balcony for a second. "Well... At least we're not the only ones Despair has to worry about." he said. Anubis stood up slowly, his body covered in flames. "...I will deal with that traitor... Just as soon as I've burned all of you to cinders!!" he snarled. Zipp started shooting him, but his bullets seemingly couldn't penetrate Anubis's flames. "Well... I guess if the fall didn't kill ya..." he grumbled. However, Silver simply buried him under a pile of broken Egg Fighters that he tossed with his psychokinesis! "That oughta slow him down!" he said.

While fighting the Egg Fighters, Sonic soon spied an Egg Mobile sneaking by into the hallway up ahead. It was just Metal Eggman, but his sneaking seemed suspicious enough to check out. "Hey! Where do you think you're goin'!? It's not like an Eggman to take off without taunting me or something!" Sonic shouted, speeding after the metallic doctor! "Go ahead! Try and catch me! This time I've got you beat, once and for all!! Gah ha ha ha!!" Metal Eggman cackled. "You're not the real Eggman, you know!!" Sonic shouted. Metal Eggman growled at him and started flying upward, finding an opening leading into one of the castle's many towers. In order to chase him, Sonic had to run for the wall, picking up enough speed to run UP the wall! "Sonic!! ...Be careful!!" Amy shouted, bashing aside an Egg Fighter before watching Sonic disappear up into the hole in the ceiling leading to the tower. Metal Eggman glanced down as he rose up the tower and yelped, weaving around bridges as he led Sonic higher and higher up Despair Castle. Some Despair agents tried shooting at Sonic from the bridges spanning through the inside of the tower, but Sonic just moved swiftly upward, moving back and forth just slightly to make himself difficult to hit. Soon, they were at the highest point inside the tower, where a number of metal beams were pretty much all there was to stand on. "Nowhere left to run, Egg-bolts! Now what can you tell me about the REAL Eggman's plans here?" Sonic shouted from his perch on a metal beam. "I AM the Eggman!! Ask me about MY plans!! Or... don't. Actually, my plan is to lure you up to this high point." Metal Eggman said, shifting from rage to amusement. Other robots dropped down from the ceiling and landed on the metal beams, surrounding Sonic! It was Terra, Firma and Freeze! "...How'd these obviously non-flying robots get up here!?" Sonic stammered, "That's all that surprises me, really." Terra slammed his robotic fist against the wall. "You have escaped me enough times now! THIS TIME, YOU DIE!!" he roared. "To restore my counterpart's honor, I will destroy you." Firma added. Freeze simply turned his fist to ice, glaring at Sonic.

The three robots all lunged at Sonic at once, hoping to knock him from the beam and send him plummeting to his doom! However, he simply jumped them and landed on another beam. "Good try, but I'm still fast without much space!" he taunted. Terra withdrew his claws into his arms, replacing them with machine guns, while Firma chased after Sonic directly, and Freeze started firing blasts of ice at the metal beams to make them slippery! Sonic slipped past Firma, running and jumping around the beams to avoid Terra's bullets and look for an opening for a counterattack. "No, no, no!! HIT him, you imbeciles!!" Metal Eggman shouted, "Look, watch me! I'LL get him!" he growled, adding his own lasers to Sonic's troubles! "All right... It's not that I don't like you goin' to all this trouble just for me... but..." Sonic jumped into the air, bounced off Freeze, and then went hurtling toward Metal Eggman! Determined to take the hedgehog out, Terra pointed his machine guns in the direction Sonic was heading. "Huh?? N-no!! Don't shoot ME!!!" Metal Eggman yelled. "You are not Eggman... Must DESTROY Sonic..." Terra buzzed. As Sonic ricocheted off Metal Eggman's Egg Mobile, a hail of bullets hammered the hovercraft, causing the control panel to start sparking. "Hmm... Looks like Terra failed obedience school." Sonic shrugged from the beam next to Metal Eggman. The Egg Mobile started shaking uncontrollably, and Metal Eggman himself buzzed violently. "N-no... I... am... the Eggman!! You cannot... stop... the Eggzzzz... Empirezzzz... Sniiiiiiiivleeeeeyzzzz!!!" An explosion from the Egg Mobile followed, and Metal Eggman went plummeting down the tower to the hall below! "Uh... Heads up, guys!!" Sonic shouted, only to be struck by an icy beam from Freeze! He jumped away before it could freeze him solid, but his fur got a bit icy. "Gah! That's c-cold...!" he shivered. "I will put you on ice before any more of us are shut down!" Freeze hissed. Terra and Firma turned to Sonic as well. This battle was still far from over!

By this point, Zipp had managed to follow Sonic up to where he was fighting the robots. "What's the big idea dropping a fat robot on me!?" he shouted as he arrived. Sonic barely glanced at him. "Zipp...? Eh, I'll take it..." he sighed. Zipp started by firing at Firma, drawing her attention. "Hey, chubsy! Didn't anyone ever tell you pink and orange are a bad combo!?" he said. "...Impediment detected. Must eliminate quickly." Firma stated. Of course, Sonic still had to deal with the projectiles coming from Freeze and Terra. Zipp helped a bit, but that wouldn't matter much once the next meddler flew up. It was Alpha, and he was flailing his arms and spinning his head in a crazed fashion. "WHO KILLED MY DADDY!?!?" he squealed. Used to Alpha's nonsense by now, Sonic simply pointed at Terra. "He did it." he tattled. Terra glanced at Alpha with cold, robotic eyes. "What is your major malfunction, Alpha?! Sonic the Hedgehog is our ENEMY! Restore your primary directive, or I must annihilate you!!" he said. Freeze nodded in agreement. "Due to our inability to fly, your aid would be most preferable." he pointed out. Alpha straightened his body out, his eyes resting on each of the other robots, and then on Sonic. "Sonic the Hedgehog... Enemy... Fruitcake registration...deleted. E-X Series... Also enemy. Must exploding!" he said in a monotone voice. Sonic stared with wide eyes, and then gulped. "I felt perfectly in control of this situation until Alpha showed up..." he admitted. Terra roared in frustration. "Destroy me if you can!! I will OBLITERATE YOU ALL!!" he screamed. "Terraaa..." Firma groaned, hearing this. "...Except Firma!" Terra added. At this moment, shots started flying everywhere. Zipp was busy shooting back at anyone who fired at him, and Alpha and Terra were shooting at everyone! Sonic, trying to dodge, found himself slipping on the icy beams! "This couldn't be how it eeeeeeeends!!!" he wailed, plummeting down as Metal Eggman did moments before! Tails was on his way up, riding SPOT, but he was too close to see Sonic in time, and missed catching him! "Oh, no!! S-SONIC!!" he cried. Sonic was screaming his lungs out, he couldn't think of much else to do. However, he soon spotted Knuckles climbing up the wall! "...Hold on!!" Knuckles grunted, jumping slightly and grabbing Sonic's arm before catching the wall again with his other hand! "Whew!! I... won't let you down this time... Sonic!!" Knuckles grunted. "Thanks... Can I switch arms? You darn near pulled the one you’re holding off when you caught me..." Sonic panted.

Tails soon caught up with them, and gave Sonic a ride back to the ground. Zipp and the robots soon followed. Although the robots couldn't exactly fly, they could hover to a degree, and that enabled them to reach the ground safely. "We'll finish this down here with your little friends, then!" Freeze said. Team Rose was busy exchanging blows with Anubis and a few of his mummy minions, while Gemini was handling the remaining Egg Fighters. This left Zipp and Team Sonic to take on Alpha, Terra, Firma and Freeze. Zipp gladly flew after Alpha. "I have a score to settle with you! First all that craziness at the security building, then your boss nabs Bucky, then you knock a vintage six shooter out of my hands while we're fighting up there! Yes, I know it only has six bullets, but it makes a standoff even more dramatic!" he shouted. Knuckles stood up to Firma while Sonic and Tails took on Terra and Freeze together. "Split up Terra and Firma... They work best together." Tails suggested. "I owe 'her' a beatdown anyway..." Knuckles growled. So, the fights began! Firma started slamming her fists around, creating mini-earthquakes, while Knuckles jumped around her looking for an opening to land a punch. Sonic sped around Terra and Freeze while Tails dug around a hatch in SPOT's back, looking for something to aid the battle. He held up his Chaos Tailband. "Hmmm... No, that's probably overkill..." he muttered, plopping it back inside. Meanwhile, Sonic bounced off Freeze and Terra, annoying them a great deal. "Your pitiful jumps no longer bother my armor!" Terra shouted. "Oh, yeah?" Sonic said, building up some speed so he could wallop Terra with a bunch of jumps all over him, hammering his armor with repeated homing attacks! Freeze tried to aim while he was moving around. "Just keep that up... I'll put a chill on you!" he said, only to be whacked in the head with a wrench! He glanced at Tails with annoyance. "Maybe the tailband would've been better..." he muttered. Stepping aside, he let SPOT fire a laser at Freeze, knocking him over!

Silver tossed Anubis toward the robots, and the disoriented jackal spewed fire over Terra, Firma and Freeze, with Sonic and Knuckles moving aside just in time to avoid it! The robots were looking a bit battered now, and Firma stepped over to Terra, lifting him up over her head. "NOOO!! MUST... DESTROOOOY!!" Terra wailed, flailing his limbs in protest. "We will require upgrades. Retreat for now." Firma said, carrying Terra away. Freeze, seeing this, realized he had no choice but to follow them. Picking himself up, Anubis growled and started to retreat as well. "I will alert the castle to Conan's treachery... And then I will return for my vengeance!" he grunted. Alpha remained, and Zipp was busy banging on the robot's head, wondering why it wouldn't just blow up. "Well... That was a warm welcome. I guess this castle's gonna be loads of fun." Sonic said. Just then, the real Dr. Eggman emerged from the tower above! He had a magnet under his Egg Mobile, which he used to lift up Metal Eggman's remains. "So, Sonic... Bash me to pieces, will you. I notice you're much more cordial to Metal SONIC!" he grumbled. "We oughta do it to the real you!" Amy growled. "Yeah, and where'd ya stash Bucky, you rotten egg!?" Knuckles shouted. Eggman kept his Egg Mobile a safe height above his adversaries, as the Chaos Emeralds were gone from it. "Tell you what. You can keep Alpha around and see if he leads you to him. Maybe you'll get lucky. You know how his brain is." he grumbled. "Keep tap dancing on my head! It tickles!" Alpha giggled, making Zipp fall to the floor in frustration. "Curse you, Eggman..." he sighed. Gemini looked at the doctor curiously. "Those Chaos Emeralds... what'd you do with them? ...You didn't put them in the doomsday weapon!?" she stammered. Eggman chuckled. "Do you think I'd start up a device that might be used to kill me? Am I that insane? Don't answer that. Anyway... Since you've helped me out so much today, Knuckles, I thought I'd mention that I've seen the Master Emerald around! It's even in one piece! Now let's see if you can get it back that way..." he taunted before flying off. "Hey, wait!! Where was it!? EGGMAN!!" Knuckles shouted futily. "Relax, Knuckles. We'll find it." Sonic said. Silver nodded. "...The fate of the world might depend on it..." he murmured ominously.

To be continued...


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