Metal Knuckles’ head snapped back, soon taking the rest of his body with it. Knuckles used the momentum of his kick to roll back, kicking Metal Knuckles in the stomach. Metal Knuckles fell to the ground as Knuckles rolled to his feet. Without a second’s pause Knuckles ran forward and threw a punch for Metal. Metal Knuckles shot away on his back, but Knuckles caught his ankles and threw him into the air. Knuckles jumped up, and before Metal could stabilize himself, he was once again punched in the face. Knuckles grabbed Metal’s legs as he fell, slamming the robot to the ground. Knuckles pulled Metal Knuckles from the ground and spun around. He sent Metal flying, and immediately chased after him. Knuckles jumped underneath him, wrapped his arms around him, then twisted around and slammed Metal headfirst into the metal and concrete, which was smashed on impact. Knuckles got to his feet, kicked off of Metal Knuckles and waited, ready to strike.
“It would seem I underestimated you,” Metal Knuckles said as he slowly pulled himself from the ground. “I had thought time and getting here would have weakened you, but your rage seems to…” Metal was cut off as Knuckles slammed a fist into the back of his head. Metal again crashed to the ground, and Knuckles pounced. However, Metal Knuckles swung his arms back and caught Knuckles by the stomach. He threw off his balance and subsequently threw him forward. Knuckles stopped himself with a handstand and flipped to his feet. He turned and charged as Metal Knuckles got to his feet. Metal was prepared this time and sidestepped Knuckles’ first punch. He caught the elbow that followed and parried with a punch to the gut. Knuckles bent forward but swung his leg out to trip Metal. Metal jumped and twisted around, kicking Knuckles to the ground. He rolled away as Metal Knuckles’ fist stabbed into the ground. Knuckles got to his feet and jumped as Metal Knuckles turned to face him.
Knuckles once again charged immediately, and Metal Knuckles dashed forward to meet him. Knuckles threw a wide punch, curving towards Metal Knuckles’ head. Metal caught it and launched an uppercut at Knuckles’ face. Knuckles also blocked it, and the two were caught in a struggle. Straining, Knuckles began to move his arms closer together, pushing against Metal’s same attempts. Suddenly, Metal’s gears gave out and Knuckles twisted his arms together, sending him to the ground. Knuckles kept his grip on Metal Knuckles’ hands and pulled him off the ground, only to turn around and slam him to the ground again. He grabbed Metal’s wrists with one hand put the other on his head, pressing it to the metal rooftop. Knuckles began to rotate, grinding Metal against the ground, creating an ear-piercing screech. Metal managed to twist his legs around and trip Knuckles. Knuckles released his grip on Metal in order to steady himself, but he couldn’t stop the robot before he slammed Knuckles face to the ground with a powerful kick.
As Metal raised his foot to crush Knuckles’ head, Knuckles rolled to the side. Metal slammed his leg into the cement and was stuck for a moment. Long enough for Knuckles to tackle him to the ground. He bashed Metal Knuckles on both sides of his face, denting the gleaming metal. Metal Knuckles managed to throw Knuckles off of him. He jumped to his feet as Knuckles charged again, and crossed his arms to block the echidna’s fist. Knuckles continued to assault Metal, slowly driving him back. Metal soon found an opening, and caught Knuckles in the stomach again. Knuckles skidded backwards, but steadied himself quickly. The two fighters immediately charged each other with fists raised. As soon as they met, each threw a devastating punch at the other, knocking both combatants away from each other.
Metal Knuckles slowly stood up from the ground. Knuckles was already on his feet and began to attack, but stopped as Metal began to speak. “I was hoping I would not have to use this on you again, but our power is too closely matched.” Metal Knuckles began to float into the air, spreading his arms out. A small sphere in each of his hands began to glow green as energy seemed to stream towards him. “So I’ll just have to borrow some power from the Master Emerald!” There was a sudden flash of light as Metal Knuckles filled with energy. When it faded Metal had disappeared from Knuckles’ sight. He sensed the attack coming, but had no time to stop it. Hyper Metal Knuckles slammed into Knuckles’ back, sending him blasting forward. He dug a trench as he landed. Knuckles pushed himself up, attempting to stand, but Hyper Metal warped over to him and kicked him in the face. Knuckles was flung up into the air, and Hyper Metal Knuckles blasted up to meet him.
Knuckles hacked up blood as Hyper Metal punched him in the gut at full speed. Blood began to seep out from the holes carved by Hyper Metal’s edged knuckle spurs. But without a second’s computation, Hyper Metal Knuckles continued to pound Knuckles, shredding his flesh. He then kicked Knuckles in the side, sending him flying through the air with a horrible crack as a few of his ribs broke. Hyper Metal warped into the middle of Knuckles’ path, kicking him back the way he came. Finally Hyper Metal appeared above Knuckles, fists clenched together. He raised them up, then brought them down on Knuckles’ head. Knuckles shot straight into the stairs of the fake emerald shrine.
A small pool of blood began to form around Knuckles, streaming down the staircase. His breath was haggard and he could barely move. He couldn’t feel his muzzle either; it was likely broken. Hyper Metal Knuckles looked down at him from above. “I hope I have not killed him yet. I still have more torture planned.” Hyper Metal calculated it over for a moment. “Then again, it may be best to eliminate him now.” Hyper Metal turned to face the fake shrine and began to fly forward for his finishing move. Knuckles struggled to push himself up, but to no success. He could barely open his eyes and the world seemed to swirl around him. As he began to lose conciseness, he focused on the object just above him, which glowed with magical light. Knuckles smirked, at least, as much as he could with a mostly broken face.
Hyper Metal Knuckles was almost on top of Knuckles when there was suddenly another bright flash of green light. Hyper Metal’s chaos energy readings began to go berserk, but he would have recognized the power right away. A swirling sphere of energy began to rise from the fake shrine. Inside it, Knuckles’ wounds were healing, his bones snapped back into place, and even the blood disappeared from his fur. The sphere slowly faded, but Knuckles continued to float in the air, his fur flashing brightly. “Let me guess,” Hyper Metal Knuckles said. “You are Super Knuckles.”
“Wrong,” Knuckles said, clenching his fists. Suddenly he faded away, only to reappear directly in front of Hyper Metal. “It’s Hyper Knuckles.” Hyper Knuckles slammed his fist into Hyper Metal’s face. The force of the punch almost seemed to slow time as it grinded into Hyper Metal. The stitching of Knuckles’ gloves, which so far had valiantly tried to hold against his furious fighting, finally gave way and exploded from his hand, revealing Hyper Knuckles’ fearsome trademarks. As Hyper Metal was thrown back by the attack he realized that now the gloves were off. Literally.
Hyper Knuckles flew forward to catch Hyper Metal. He started to rapidly throw punches at Hyper Metal, aiming primarily for his face. Hyper Metal bounced side to side with each hit. He struggled to put up a defense, but Hyper Knuckles continued to pound him with earth-shaking hits. They slowly drifted through the sky, Hyper Metal trying to back away from Hyper Knuckles, who wasn’t giving him an inch. Finally Hyper Metal broke free after Hyper Knuckles tried to kick him. Hyper Metal flew upward and Hyper Knuckles gave chase. Hyper Metal lifted one arm towards the black clouds above and pointed the other at Hyper Knuckles. A lightning bolt shot down to Hyper Metal, and he channeled it through his body and shot it down at Hyper Knuckles. It shot straight through him, but instead of being electrocuted he simply faded. Hyper Metal turned to see him floating beside him. “Nice technique, but a little too slow.” Hyper Knuckles spun around and kicked Hyper Metal back towards the ground.
Hyper Metal turned around in the air and began to fire chaos energy blasts at Hyper Knuckles as he fell. Hyper Knuckles weaved around them, continuing to close the gap between the two. Hyper Metal began to charge up power, releasing a long blast once Hyper Knuckles was within a few feet of him. Hyper Knuckles got hit in the chest but quickly threw up an energy shield. He managed to absorb most of the blast; after all, he was being fueled by chaos energy too. As soon as the blast ceased, Hyper Knuckles shot forward. But Hyper Metal was ready and blocked the first attack, catching Hyper Knuckles’ fist. He attempted to swing his leg up, but Hyper Metal pulled Hyper Knuckles to the side. He spun around and threw Hyper Knuckles, blasting to meet him. Hyper Knuckles crossed his arms in front of his body to block Hyper Metal’s attack. He held up this defense as Hyper Metal continued to assault him with various punches and kicks. Eventually Hyper Metal broke through and spun forward, his heel slamming into Hyper Knuckles’ head.
Hyper Knuckles fell towards the roof, with Hyper Metal hot on his tail. Hyper Metal grabbed onto Hyper Knuckles, pointing him headfirst at the ground. The two crashed through the roof of the tower, and subsequently the upper floors. Hyper Knuckles struggled against his enemy as they continued to smash through half the floors of the building. Eventually Knuckles twisted around on top of Hyper Metal and turned towards the side of the building, shooting through the wall. Hyper Knuckles threw Hyper Metal towards one of the relatively smaller buildings, which had a laser cannon mounted on it that conveniently chose that moment to try and shoot Hyper Knuckles. He watched the explosion carefully, and soon spotted Hyper Metal falling towards the ground. He dashed to attack him while he was weakened, but the robot quickly recovered and shot up to meet Hyper Metal.
The two went into a flying fury of a fight. Literally. They streaked through the sky throwing punches, blocking punches, and throwing punches at punches to block the punches. Which each hit the world seemed to shake from the power. As soon as one broke free, the other would fly over to meet him. Hyper Knuckles momentarily gained an advantage and grabbed onto Hyper Metal’s core. Pointing straight at the ground, he propelled forward, shooting through the air like the lightning bolts around them. His speed was so great that afterimages appeared behind him. Finally, a few feet from the ground, he released Hyper Metal Knuckles, charging chaos energy into his fist for that extra kick. “Eat this!” he yelled as he hit Hyper Metal. They exploded their way into the ground, sending up a beam of green energy. Hyper Knuckles flew into the air to watch for Hyper Metal’s next move.
Hyper Metal slowly rose from the crater his impact had formed in the ground. Pieces of rubble fell off him as he looked up at Hyper Knuckles. His flight engine began to rev up, blasting away the ground behind him. Then in a split second Hyper Metal blasted off of the ground, shooting towards. Hyper Knuckles. Hyper Metal collided straight into Hyper Knuckles, or rather, through Hyper Knuckles. As Hyper Metal flew by, Hyper Knuckles faded like smoke. “No! An afterimage!” Hyper Metal looked up as Hyper Knuckles came down on him with both fists clenched together. Hyper Metal shot back the direction he’d just come, and Hyper Knuckles shot down beside him. He strafed into Hyper Metal, elbowing him through the side of the tower again. Hyper Knuckles followed Metal through the hole, and immediately swerved sideways as Hyper Metal threw a large piece of rubble. It crashed through the wall, and Hyper Knuckles threw a chaos energy infused punch towards Hyper Metal. The power of the punch left Hyper Knuckles’ fist and flew at Hyper Metal. He dodged it however and began to launch small spheres of energy. Hyper Knuckles flew side to side, twisting through the air. He stopped and threw up a shield as a widespread barrage of energy tore through the room. Hyper Metal blasted a hole through the wall behind him and flew back up to the roof. Hyper Knuckles quickly covered the distance between them, shooting back through the center of the tower.
Hyper Knuckles blasted straight into Hyper Metal as he broke through the roof. He got a hit with a well-aimed uppercut, and Hyper Metal knee’d Hyper Knuckles in the chin. Hyper Knuckles grabbed Hyper Metal’s leg and pulled him down to his level so he could punch him straight in between the eyes. Hyper Metal let his head fly back, only to nod forward and headbutt Hyper Knuckles. Hyper Knuckles was dazed, and Hyper Metal laid a quick series of hits to his stomach before sending him flying. Instead of recovering and flying back, Knuckles seemed to drift for a while, his glow diminished. “An opening!” Hyper Metal Knuckles yelled as he quickly charged and fired an energy blast. Hyper Knuckles yelled as he recovered his power, destroying the shot with an outburst of energy. He flew back up to Hyper Metal’s level. “It appears I have found your weakness, “Hyper” Knuckles,” Hyper Metal taunted.
“Oh yeah, and what would that be?” Hyper Knuckles asked.
“You may be fueled with energy from the Master Emerald, and your infamous rage, but you still cannot get past your injuries, even in this semi-invincible state.” Hyper Knuckles grimaced. “The simple fact of the matter is, you cannot stay in this form forever. I’ll defeat you with the same tactic you used to defeat Super Mecha Sonic those many years ago!”
“We’ll see if you can manage to last that long!” Hyper Knuckles yelled as he charged Hyper Metal. He began throwing chaos punches, and Hyper Metal blocked them using small energy shields surrounding his hands. Hyper Knuckles blasted right up to Hyper Metal and slammed an energy filled punch into his forehead. However the power of the attack once again drained his power just long enough for Hyper Metal to grab onto Knuckles. He spread his hand out across Knuckles’ face. “My turn,” he said as his hand began to glow. Hyper Metal released the energy in a powerful explosion. Knuckles began to fall the ground, but quickly regained his power. The burns on his face began to fade, but it was obvious that he was healing slower than before. Hyper Metal was already on top of him, throwing punch after punch. Hyper Knuckles could only throw up his arms in an attempt to block the assault.
Hyper Metal began to drive Hyper Knuckles closer to the ground. With each hit Hyper Knuckles’ power faded for a moment, and each hit was harder than the last. He tried to fight back, but each time he made a move Hyper Metal blocked it and made an even more powerful attack. Eventually Hyper Knuckles broke through. Channeling all his power he shot one last beam of energy at Hyper Metal. It shot straight through the robot, and Hyper Knuckles hovered in the air, drifting between his normal and hyper forms. Still, he had been victorious. At least, that’s how it appeared for the brief moment before he felt a cold metal touch on his shoulder. “Too bad original. I managed to replicate your afterimage ability. And now I will destroy you.” Hyper Metal carved his clawed fist into Knuckles’ back. The weakened and battered echidna crashed to the ground, right into the same staircase leading up to the Master Emerald. Despite the heavy rain, it was still stained with his blood, and now more would come to join the stain.
Slowly and painfully, he tried to drag himself to the Emerald to which he had devoted his life. His fingers were about to brush its surface when Hyper Metal Knuckles shot down and slammed his fist into Knuckles’ back yet again. He coughed up blood, some of which flew onto the Master Emerald, marking its vibrant green with dark red. Hyper Metal crouched down beside Knuckles and grabbed onto his dreadlock-like spines. He hoisted him up to face the Master Emerald. “Look at it original, is it not beautiful. I am certainly glad you worked so hard to protect this. After all, it will be fueling my master’s destruction and domination of the world.” Hyper Metal Knuckles let out a bone-chilling laugh.
Knuckles stared into the Master Emerald. All his life he had been on the island, guarding the Master Emerald. He never exactly knew why the duty was given to him, why it was his fate. To live, and die, for the Emerald. But perhaps it was better than he never knew. For now, staring into the glowing gem, he knew there was only one way to save it, only one way to save the world. “The server’s are… the seven Chaos…” Knuckles said, struggling even to breath. He coughed, and more blood splattered on the ground. Hyper Metal continued to gloat, speaking of the Eggman Empire’s “glorious” plan. “Chaos… is… power… power enriched… by the heart,” Knuckles continued, slowly growing louder, despite beginning to lose feeling in his body.
“What are you doing?” Hyper Metal asked when he finally noticed Knuckles was speaking. “If you are begging for your life there is no point. I am still going to make you suffer.”
Knuckles’ resolve was set in stone. There was no turning back now. He knew it was the only way. “The controller… is the one… who unifies… the Chaos… only you… can do this… to save the world… destroy this island and yourself!” Knuckles yelled the final command to the Master Emerald, which began to rapidly spin around in its stand.
“What are you babbling about?! Destroy the island, and the Emerald? There is no way you would…” Metal Knuckles was cut off as a wave of energy spread out from the Master Emerald. Everything went still, as if the entire world was frozen in time. “This… does not compute!” he yelled, releasing Knuckles and frantically looking around him. Everything began to glow green, even the air. “There is no way the Guardian could sacrifice the very object he protects with his life! There is no way!”
“You’re wrong… Metal,” Knuckles said, coughing. “Now my destiny is complete… and the Master Emerald will be… safe.” Knuckles smiled, and closed his eyes. “Now, I can die peacefully…” he said, slowly drifting off into death.
“No! I am not going to be defeated like this! I am an ultimate machine, Metal Knuckles! I will kill you with my own hands!” Metal Knuckles thrust down at Knuckles, but was stopped by a strange blue liquid that suddenly appeared and covered him. “What is this?” Metal Knuckles said, looking at the liquid that had suddenly begun to come from the Master Emerald. It began to take shape in front of Metal Knuckles as he rapidly searched his data files for information on this creature. “It… it cannot be…!”
In the world around Angel Island, Metal Knuckles’ cries could not be heard. Everything was in total silence and peace. Even the sea seemed to be calmer this day. The island in the sky was enveloped in a sphere of swirling green energy, and in total silence, disappeared from existence.
* * * * *
Far away, on an ordinary island in the sea, all seemed peaceful. The majority of the island was covered in rolling green hills, with beautiful trees and blooming flowers. Strangely, this island was on of the first places Dr. Robotnik had nearly conquered, only to be defeated by a hero of the island, and the world. And yet now it was one of the few places yet to witness total takeover by the Eggman Empire’s robotic redecoration. On one of its many hillsides, a creature was lying on the ground, arms spread wide. He seemed to be sleeping, but slowly opened his eyes, blinking rapidly as the bright sunlight nearly blinded him. He sat up, shaking running his hands through the spines on the back of his head. The hedgehog glanced at his empty hand. “That was some trip, looks like the fake Chaos Emerald couldn’t handle it.” He got to his feet and looked at his surroundings. “But the thing I wanna know is… how did I wind up in Green Hill?”