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Chapter 42 - Despair's Prisoner

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 42 - Despair's Prisoner

Chapter 42 - Despair's Prisoner
GeneX - Knuckles the Echidna
Chapter 42 - Despair's Prisoner
Stage 23(Hero 12) - Despair Castle
Boss 23 - Eddie

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:
Our heroes are pulling out all the stops to defeat the Covenant of Despair! But the mission is complicated by Dr. Eggman being thrown in the mix. Sonic, Tails and Knuckles have united to form "Team Sonic", and with Gemini's help, began exploring Despair Castle from the main entryway. They were soon joined by Team Rose and Zipp, and teamed up to battle a squad of Egg Fighters led by Alpha. Seeing an opportunity now that the covenant was beginning to have its hands full, Conan turned on his allies and went to search for the Chaos Relics stashed in the castle. Sonic chased Metal Eggman into a trap, and was surrounded by Freeze, Terra and Firma. However, Metal Eggman got scrapped, and with the help of his friends, Sonic sent most of the robots packing. The real Eggman arrived to gather Metal Eggman's remains, and left Alpha behind as a "reward" of sorts, leaving our heroes to continue searching for the Master Emerald, Bucky, and Project GXterminate before Despair puts their fiendish plans to action!
Now, on to the next chapter!

At the end of the long hall they'd been traversing, the group found a big, important-looking locked door. Sick of looking for keys, Amy's first instinct instead was to try bashing it with her hammer. Knuckles tried his fists as well. This door was made of tough stuff, or otherwise magically reinforced, because it wouldn't budge. Gemini stepped over to the door. "Abra-ka-unlockra!" Obviously, the door WAS magically sealed, because the spell failed as well. "...Well, I'm still technically in training." she sighed. SPOT perked up, beeping as though detecting something. The robo-puppy started heading for another, unlocked hall nearby. "Looks like SPOT is onto something!" Tails said. Sonic shrugged. "It'll have to do. I'm getting bored waiting for us to figure a way past this door." he said. "But, what if the doomsday weapon is in there??" Silver said urgently. Zipp patted his shoulder. "I'm SURE it is. But we can't get in yet. We'd best find a bargaining chip to force them to let us in, don't ya think?" he suggested. Silver crossed his arms. "We don't have time for such a roundabout strategy!" he said. "Then GET A MOVE ON, Silver!" Knuckles yelled, pushing him forward, "Thinking about how we can do the impossible is pointless!" As they headed into the next hallway, once they were all out of sight, Alpha looked at the locked door and kicked it in the hinges, causing it to fall over backward with a thud! "It's beautiful! Wall to wall chili dogs!" he gasped. "Hey! Where's Alpha!? HEY, YOU!! NO SNEAKING UP ON US!!" Amy shouted back. So, Alpha hurried back to the group with a squeak. As they were walking, Gemini was waving her wand carefully, trying to detect the Master Emerald for Knuckles. "...Well?" he asked. "I know you'll find this frustrating, what with how I detected it at Eggman's base from all the way at Shadow Arc before... But there's too much magical interference here. I just can't pinpoint it. I know it's here, I just don't know where." she sighed. Knuckles scratched his head. "Well... You tried. I'll tear this whole castle down if I have to... I'll find it." he grumbled.

They found themselves going down a winding hallway with a red carpet. Up ahead, they heard a voice that was familiar to some of them. "Slow down... I think that's Jolt up ahead." Silver warned. The electric yellow Egg Pawn was bossing around some lesser Egg Pawns up ahead. "SONIC will be on his way here! Set up those thunder-traps and lightning pendulums! He's not making a fool out of me... um, US, again! And we'll get his little friends to boot! They'll never see us coming with this twisty-turny hallway! Hehehehehe!!" he chuckled. "Unless you talk really loudly and we hear your whole plan!" Sonic shouted, stepping out and grinning at Jolt smugly. The Egg Pawns hurriedly put together their traps, but Sonic simply sped by them, getting through the hall before the thunder mechanisms on the floor could zap him or the electrified pendulums in the halls could strike him! Jolt watched him, stammering in frustration, but then glanced back at the rest of the group. "AHA!! You didn't figure on your little friends! How about this, give yourself up and maybe I'll let them go!" he shouted. Sonic chuckled, shaking his head. "I'll scout out ahead, guys. You can handle this, right?" he said, speeding away. Jolt stood stiffly, seeming to have overloaded. Gemini started walking ahead of the group, calmly casting spells at the "thunder-traps" to disable them. "Reverize..." she said, casting a spell that drained the power from the electric traps. Alpha flew ahead and grabbed at the pendulums, playfully swinging on them until they loosened and fell down. "Wheeee!! BOOM!! Those swings are funny!" he giggled. Zipp, Silver and Amy took out the hapless Egg Pawns that had set up the traps, but left Jolt alone in his seemingly frozen state. Cream knocked on his head as she passed by. "Gee, Mr. Robot... Don't take it so hard. What did you think would happen if you were being bad?" she said before following the others. With the danger easily removed from the path, SPOT regained the lead, searching out the signal he was detecting. Once they were out of sight, Jolt moved again. "Ah... I scared 'em off, eh? Yeah... That's it..." he murmured, "Now I better find an outlet to recharge. I'm beat!" he "sighed."

The group reunited with Sonic by a doorway where a lot of buzzing and whirring was coming from the next room. "Sounds like someone's working with tools... Maybe the doomsday weapon's in there?" Tails wondered. They headed inside and found a laboratory, where Despair agents in white uniforms were hard at work building new robots and weapons! They were being aided by none other than GUN's Dr. Nammad. "You!? ...How can you work for these guys!?" Silver gasped. Nammad chuckled. "Survival of the, uh, fittest. So how could I not? The only way to, uh, survive the coming... boom... Is to side with Despair. They'll keep me alive and, uh, maybe reward me handsomely..." he grinned. "You and Eggman are a disgrace to good scientists everywhere!" Tails growled. Sonic shook his head. "Don't put him with Eggman. I'm sure Eggman plans to betray Despair. This guy... Somehow he's a bigger scumbag than Eggman! He actually intends to watch them slaughter his own kind!" he shouted. Nammad backed away a step. "Oooh, I uh, detect some tension here..." he mumbled. "Picked up on that, eh??" Amy said, holding up her hammer. "Where's that fake wand you created!?" Gemini growled. With tensions rising, Dr. Nammad glanced at the back door briefly. "Oh... That wand is safe... Still connected to Project GXterminate..." he squeaked, nonchalantly pressing a button on the edge of a lab desk. In reaction to the button, a number of robots sprung to life! They loosely resembled Eggman's Spinner robots, but with a more compact, black design and blades ending in spiky "teeth!" These robots started to fly at the group, and Nammad ran for the back door! "Be sure they don't, uh, follow me!" he said to the Despair scientists, "Adios, my fuzzy friends! See ya on the other side..." he grinned as he escaped. Knuckles jumped away from one of the black Spinners and growled. "I have no clue who that guy was... But I don't like him." he grunted. "He's GUN's Dr. Nammad!" Gemini informed him, "And he's responsible for the doomsday weapon!" she said.

The white-suited scientists, mostly foxes and owls, picked up various weapons in preparation to defend themselves. "Hoot... You shall not defeat the Covenant of Despair!!" an owl shouted, trying not to look too ridiculous. Silver, Gemini and Zipp took charge of the situation with the Spinners, using their powers and weaponry to take them out without the need to touch them. The scientists had equipped themselves with high tech arm cannons, laser rifles, and handfuls of odd-looking bombs. The remaining Spinners started to glow as well, firing energy beams from their blades as they spun around! Sonic and Knuckles ducked behind an energy shield Tails had SPOT set up, but the shield was quickly disabled by an electrical explosion from the odd-looking bombs! "Yikes! ...Better keep away from those, SPOT!" Tails yelped. Knuckles growled and pulled out the Chaos Gauntlets. "If they wanna play hardball... I could try these again..." he said. "I dunno, Knuckles. Both tailbands can make Copter go super, and obviously the others are stronger in groups, too. We wouldn't want you accidentally goin' nuclear." Sonic warned. As they discussed this, Cheese flew ahead and started whacking the Despair scientists, disrupting their aim! Alpha was following him around, shooting up any Spinners that followed them! "Heehee! Wait for me, Char!!" the robot giggled. Cream scratched her head as she watched. "He... thinks Cheese is that other Chao?" she mumbled. Amy charged forward with her hammer. "Whatever!! They gave us an opening!!" she yelled, bashing at a fox as he tried to defend with his arm cannon! Silver glanced at Team Sonic and nodded. "We'll handle this. You guys better move on while you can!" he suggested. "What? But... will you be okay?" Tails asked worriedly. Sonic sighed. "He's right. We can't let these guys distract us from the big picture!" he said, hurrying for the back door that Dr. Nammad had escaped through. SPOT scampered that way as well, so Tails and Knuckles followed. "...Huh?? Hey, don't ditch me!!" Zipp shouted, flying off after Team Sonic. Gemini warped out of the action and joined them as well, leaving Team Rose and Alpha to deal with the scientists.

Dr. Nammad had gotten away, but SPOT managed to pick up the signal he'd been following again, and it wasn't long before they reached the source of the signal. It was the seventh Chaos Emerald, the green one, and it was set in a wall above a prison cell, being used to generate a force field not unlike the one that had been used by Eggman to contain Sonic. It wasn't Bucky held in the cell, however. In fact, it was Shadow Chaos! The creature raged against its cage, bashing against the force field, but to no avail. Guarding the cell was Patch and Infin, but they looked a bit taken aback as Team Sonic, Zipp and Gemini arrived. "Um... It was HIS idea!!" Patch yelped, pointing at Infin and recoiling away from the intruders. "Oh, yoiks! No one said we'd be dealing with Sonic's whole posse! What do youse want!?" Infin groaned. Zipp pointed a gun at the weasel, who responded in kind. "How about you lead us to Bucky, or I blow your blinkin' brains out?" he growled. "How 'bout I blow yer brains out just fer fun?" Infin growled. Gemini warped beside the two of them and pointed her wand around, startling them. "Now, we'll have none of this!" she yelled. Patch clapped excitedly. "Good trick! Now saw Mitchie boy in half!" he giggled. Infin groaned and held his forehead. "A magician, too... Fine, we give... Whatever ya want. It ain't worth it no more." he grumbled. Sonic nodded. "Great... Could we start with that Chaos Emerald, or would it be dangerous, with Shadow Chaos and all?" he wondered. A new voice echoed through the room. "Eeee hee... It'd be very dangerous, but you're in danger as it is! Eeeee hee hee hee hee!! You thought you'd waltz in to our castle and just take what you want THIS easily!?" Knuckles glanced around uneasily. "That laugh... It's familiar... Eddie!" he growled. Gemini nodded. "How could I forget..." she groaned. With a flash of blinding light, Eddie the hyena materialized in the room! "Eee hee... I was in here the whole time, actually. But, an illusionist never reveals his secrets." he chuckled, glancing at Infin and wagging his finger, "Tsk, tsk... You know our policy about surrenders..." he said.

Eddie wasn't alone. Beecon robots flew into the room, and several of Despair's dark mages warped in as well, cloaked in black hoods, so their faces couldn't be seen. The group suddenly found the odds turned drastically against them. "Umm... Can I use the gauntlets now? Because I'm not great with magic..." Knuckles muttered. "Then WHY do you want to USE magic??" Tails pointed out. Eddie grinned at this situation. "I have a killer idea. Warp them into Shadow Chaos's cell and leave them there. It'll be fun. Eeee hee hee!" he said. "They've got a magician, they'll just port on out!" Infin pointed out. Eddie gave him a droll look. "Well, then kill 'em!" he ordered. "Not... so... fast!!" came a voice that lifted Gemini's spirits. Reinforcements arrived in the form of Fred the fennec, Adam the bat, Evelyn the fox and Cuthburt the alligator, and they set to work giving Team Sonic a little breathing room by blasting the Beecons with their futuristic lasers while Fred took on some of the mages with his magic! Gemini swiftly warped over to her friends to aid them, and SPOT joined in as well, firing lasers as the enemies scrambled to fight back! This left Team Sonic and Zipp, and they were intent on taking on the leaders of this Despair group. Zipp turned his attention to Infin again. "I don't care who leads me to Bucky...and I get a feeling you don't know anything anyway." Zipp said. "Heh, your opinion. But they call me Infin fer a reason... I know it all! Not that I'll tell the likes a' youse!" he growled. Tails faced off against Patch in the meantime, who spun around his nunchucks as he twirled his tails in anticipation. "Hee hee... And they called ME a freakazoid. Look at you with the tail!" Patch teased. Tails shuddered at the insult, but seeing Patch's various discolored splotches of fur, he could tell that he'd probably been on the receiving end of worse before. "All right... This might look like I'm kicking your butt... But it's all to set you free!" he said, hoping defeating Despair would save its more innocent members. "...Hee hee!! Hee hee hee hee! You are gonna be some REAL fun!" Patch cackled. Meanwhile, Sonic and Knuckles squared off against Eddie...

Eddie's hand glowed lightly, and he made a blue Knuckles and red Sonic appear in front of him! Sonic stared in amazement. "...Illusionist." Knuckles shrugged. Nodding, Sonic clenched his fists at his doppelganger. "Red's not really my color. I'll have to destroy this imposter!" he said, charging at it! However, the red Sonic dashed behind him with equal speed! "Huh?? Wha?!" Sonic babbled. Eddie chuckled at this, but Knuckles wasn't interested in playing the game. He stomped over to the red Sonic and bashed it over the head! "It only takes one good hit to stop an illusion! And he wasn't expecting me to ignore my copy!" he grunted as the Sonic copy went poof! Sonic shrugged and bashed the hapless Knuckles copy, but Eddie didn't care much. "Eeee hee hee hee! You like to hit each other, don't you? Fine with me!!" he laughed, raising his hands and blinding them with bright light! When Sonic's eyes readjusted, Knuckles was missing. Eddie was beside him instead. In fact, Eddie was everywhere! "Um... I don't know how you did it, but... You turned everyone into you?? PUT EVERYONE BACK!!" Sonic yelled. "Eee hee hee! But everyone's so much better looking this way!" Eddie replied, throwing a punch at Sonic! He jumped aside quickly, but more punches came his way fast! "Eeee hee hee! Stand still, you blue gumball!" he laughed. Sonic watched him as he jumped back and forth. His stance was familiar as he came at him. "...Knuckles??" he muttered. Knuckles was trapped in the same illusion, but to him, Sonic and everyone else was Eddie. "You bring Sonic and everyone back, RIGHT NOW!!" he yelled. "Eeee hee! What, am I too fast for you?" Eddie chuckled, evading him quickly. Of course, it was really Sonic, and he realized that he had to get Knuckles's attention by doing something Eddie COULDN'T do. He curled into a ball and dashed at Knuckles, catching him off guard and knocking him over! "Ugh!! Hyenas can spin dash!? Wait..."Knuckles muttered, looking up as he was sprawled on the floor. The real Eddie was hovering overhead. "...Hee hee... Would you believe I'm Tails?" he said. The "Eddie" on the ground helped Knuckles up, and they leapt at the real one, knocking him down and dispelling the illusion!

Eddie stood back up, ready for more. "Eeee hee hee! All right, there's always plan B and C..." he grinned. At this point, Tails knocked Patch aside with a tail whip and held out a device he'd managed to get ready in the confusion: the Chaos Emerald magnet! It pulled the green emerald free from the wall, instantly powering down the force field that was keeping Shadow Chaos trapped! "Shadow Chaos! You're free now! So, what do you say to the guys who caged you?!" Tails shouted. Eddie, with his back turned to Shadow Chaos, jumped slightly. "Hee... He wouldn't hit a guy with glasses, would he?" he said, putting illusion glasses on his face. Shadow Chaos roared and slammed the hyena out of his way, then melted into a puddle in order to slither its way out of the room quickly and easily! "Jeez, shoot and cripes!! That THING is loose in the castle!!" Infin cursed. Patch climbed to his feet, chuckling incessantly. "Heeheheehee... I laugh uncontrollably when I'm nervous... Heeheehe... Whatta we do?" he babbled. Infin glanced at the dazed Eddie, then at Sonic and his friends. "Gah... Never mind them! C'mon, boys! Let's get that goopy creature contained, quick!" he shouted, leading the mages in pursuit of Shadow Chaos! Zipp stuck his tongue out at him as he left, while Gemini and her friends took a breather, tending to some injuries Adam had sustained. Sonic and Knuckles turned to Tails. "Good job, buddy... I get the feeling hyena-boy wasn't gonna quit easily if you hadn't done that." Sonic said. Knuckles nodded. "Yeah... Least we got a Chaos Emerald out of this." he added. Tails added the emerald to the collection of items in SPOT's hatch, a serious look on his face. "We may have got this far, but the Master Emerald and the other 5 Chaos Emeralds are still missing... And that doomsday weapon's still in here, too." he pointed out. Sonic looked at the cell curiously. "What was Shadow Chaos doing locked up here, anyway?" he wondered. Zipp groaned. "Aw, these guys are after EVERYTHING. The Chaos Relics. Bucky. Heather. They're NUTS!" he said. Sonic nodded. "Yeah, maybe..." he agreed. One thing was certain, they had to be stopped, before things could get any worse!

To be continued...


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