Never Turn Back.

“Okay, going by these conveniently placed signs pointing out the way to the hangar, I should be going the right way. I can probably hop on a hoverdisk there and fly down to the city. Or just jump off the ship, though that would be more dangerous,” Ekajra said as he ran through the halls. Soon he saw the door to the hangar and began to run faster. “I just hope I don’t run into… him…” Ekajra skidded to a stop as he saw the all too familiar purple echidna standing in the hangar. “Should’ve expected this. So, we gonna have a final showdown in the hangar? Shall I select ancient echidna chanting or stadium rock?”

“Spare me the humor,” Kage said, holding his sword horizontally in front of him. “This time, you won’t be getting up when I’m done with you.” He activated the laser, and as Ekajra got into a fighting position Kage pressed another button on the other end of the sword, activating a second blade.

“That’s a new one. This might make things a little more interesting,” Ekajra said. Kage jumped up the stairs between the two of them, swinging his sword around in the air, the duel blades slashing through the air. Ekajra tried to hit him before he landed, but with two blades to dodge he couldn’t find an opening. He slid away and ran down the ledge before jumping onto the hangar floor. Kage chased after him, dual-sword at the ready. He jumped off the ledge, swinging his sword in a back and forth diagonal motion, creating a blur of light. He slammed into the ground, sending up sparks and bits of rubble. “Okay. Definitely need to avoid that.” Ekajra continued to run, trying to think of a way to stop Kage. The enraged echidna was swinging erratically, but with two swords technique wasn’t exactly necessary.

He turned around to face Kage. He continued to jump backwards, then slid in between two hoverdisks. Kage charged straight into him, slashing into the ships. Sparks shot in front of Ekajra, but fortunately Kage was slowed down enough for Ekajra to kick Kage in the gut. Kage slid backwards, and Ekajra turned and ran back towards the hallway. “I think I’ve got an idea. I just hope this works.” The edge of the doorway burst apart as Kage blasted through. He charged down the hall after Ekajra. Just as planned. Ekajra weaved through the halls, jumping into as many side halls as he could. And Kage simply followed him, swinging his sword rapidly in a spiral. Until they got stuck in a wall. Ekajra stopped and turned to face his trapped opponent. “Your sword may be dangerous in a wide space, but in a cramped hall it’s more of a weakness,” Ekajra said, drawing his knife. “That’s why I prefer smaller weapons. This one’s just for you.” Ekajra ran forward and Kage stepped back, letting go of his sword. Ekajra jumped over it, and pulled his arm back. “Eat this!” Ekajra yelled, thrusting his knife forward, straight into Kage’s cybernetic eye. Kage yelled, more in anger than pain, as sparks shot out of his ruined eye. Ekajra landed behind him, withdrawing his knife. “See yah Shadow Claw. It was fun,” he said, then ran back to the hangar.

* * * * *

“This is getting bad guys, I don’t think we can last much longer!” Alerak yelled, taking out a few more Legionnaires.

“We don’t have much choice, do we?” Remington said. “We have to hold out until Knuckles takes care of the big guys. It can’t be too much longer.”

“I’m just worried about Ekajra. I’d think he’d be done with Kage by now, he usually tries to finish fights as quick as possible.”

“Hey guys, hoverdisk coming in from above,” Mighty said.

“I’ve got it,” Alerak said, turning to aim.

“Hold it, it’s me!” Ekajra said, stretching over the edge of the disk while still trying to drive it. “Ah, screw this… heads up!” Ekajra jumped out of the disk, which soon went out of control and crashed into the mob of Legionnaires. Ekajra kicked two more in the face as he landed, then punched a third once he hit the ground.

“Glad you could finally make it,” Alerak called from across the robes. “What took you?”

“Long story. Lots of details. Some fighting, destruction. You know, the usual. I’ll fill you in later.”

“Alright, let’s just get out of this first. Knuckles is aboard the flagship fighting Kragok, so we’re hoping if he’s defeated and Knuckles can get to Dimitri they’ll retreat.”

“Well, I hope I don’t miss too much action,” Ekajra said, taking out two more soldiers. “I’ve only fought one guy today after all.”

Just then a red streak began to shoot down from the flagship, which suddenly slowed down, taking the form of an echidna. Knuckles glided down to the group. “So Knux, I take you finished up everything?” Vector asked.

“Well, I know Kragok won’t be delivering any more orders soon.”

“Legion! The Grandmaster is ordering a full retreat. Withdraw to outside the city, immediately!” a Dark Legion commander said. The troops began to pull back, leaving most of the wounded behind to be arrested by the E.S.T.

“Ahh, you just had to ruin it for me, didn’t you Guardian,” Ekajra said as he walked up to Knuckles. “Still, you’re not actually that bad.”

“What are you talking about?” Knuckles asked.

“Oh nothing. Maybe I’ll tell you about it later.”

* * * * *

“I’m sorry! I didn’t know that was your orchard!” a black-robed echidna yelled as he ran through the forest. A trio of farmers was chasing him. The traveler had stumbled upon a grove of apple trees, which soon turned out to belong to someone. He ducked as one of them threw a pitchfork at him. The tool dug into a tree, and the echidna continued to run. He saw a strong branch stretching across his path, and began to unhook the chain wrapped around his right arm. With a flick of his wrist he sent the chain flying up to the branch. It wrapped itself around, and the echidna swung into the air. The farmers continued to run forward, and the echidna twisted around the branch and kicked two of them to the ground. He pulled the chain off the tree, wrapping it back around his arm as he ran. The last farmer kept up his pursuit.

Eventually, the trees began to thin, and the echidna found himself trapped on a cliff. The last farmer advanced on him. The echidna threw up his arms in surrender, revealing the pair of spikes on each of his hands, and the black crescent mark on his chest. “Hold… I recognize the marking. Pray tell, just who are you?” the farmer asked.

The echidna smirked, spreading his arms out wide. “I’m just a wandering freak of science.” He then leaned backwards and dropped off the cliff. The farmer ran to the edge, but the echidna was nowhere to be seen. He turned around and headed back to his farm. A short ways down the cliff however, the echidna was clinging on by a thread. As he fell, he’d quickly fed his chain through a small hole on the gauntlet on his left arm, then shot a knife out, which dug into the cliff face like a grappling hook. He slowly lowered himself down to a flat rock below, then put his equipment away. He looked to the island and sighed. “Looks like I’m swimming.” The echidna dove into the cold water and swam for the island.

He soon reached a beach, and was greeted by strange looks from the echidnas there. He simply smiled and waved as he walked up the beach to the main city. Fortunately the sun was out and he dried off quickly, though he did have to remove his cloak. “Okay, the Albion Knight’s HQ should be in the center of the city,” the echidna said to himself as he walked down the street. After about half an hour of wandering around the city, he finally found the headquarters of Albion’s main police and defense force, the Albion Knights. And upon entering he almost immediately found the person he was looking for.

“Hey, Ekajra, long time no see!” an officer said, walking up to the echidna.

“I know, man, seems like forever. How’ve you been doing Alerak?” Ekajra said, exchanging a secret handshake with his old friend.

“Pretty good. Once we finished repairs the city really started to improve. And there’ve hardly been any attacks as of late.”

“Well that’s good to hear. Not much else going on in the world, other than the usual fighting.”

“How’s Knuckles?”

“Last I checked him and the Chaotix were dividing their time between the island and New Mobotropolis. I stopped training with him a while ago.”

“Still can’t stand the guy?”

“No, I was just getting tired of getting beat all the time. I mean, don’t tell anyone I said this, but ever since he started loosening up about the Enerjak thing, I think he’s been getting stronger.”

“Well, he is the Guardian. But I can’t believe how long it’s been since that incident.”

“Yeah. Most morning I still wake up expecting the cold feeling of metal on my face,” Ekajra said, looking at his fully flesh left arm. “And it feels like just yesterday I finally figured out my crazy childhood. Strange, considering it’s been almost three years!”

————————————————————————————————————

Previous Chapter.

Index.

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