All Hail Shadow.

“Hey, they stopped fighting.” Sonic said as him and Tails observed the battle from their platform.

“It looks like they’re talking, and Metal Knuckles doesn’t look too good.”

“Yeah, he seems pissed. Hey, they’re starting back up!”

* * * * *

“I’d like to see you try!” Metal Knuckles yelled as he flew towards Knuckles. He began to punch at him, but it was more like slashes, attempting to cut Knuckles with his spikes. Knuckles dodged the first few volleys, before he had to begin blocking the attacks. Soon, Metal had pushed him to the edge of the platform. There was hardly any railing, and Knuckles could feel himself losing balance. He ducked down quickly and rolled away, swinging his leg at the last second to trip up Metal Knuckles.

He started to fall forward, teetering back and forth, until eventually gravity got the best of him and he tumbled over the edge. He twirled around in mid air, and stabbed his fist into the side of the platform. He looked around, and gave an electrical sigh as he observed his incredible closeness to the lava. He may be strong, but falling into that would melt him like it would kill any organic.

He stabbed his other hands into the metal siding as he climbed up. Nearing the top, he grabbed onto the ledge and flung himself over. Flipping, he landed on his feet and immediately activated his boosters, jetting towards Knuckles, who was waiting. Metal didn’t even through a punch however, and merely rammed his head into Knuckles. Knuckles caught him, and his feet dug into the floor as he was pushed back. That near fall had given Metal an idea.

He continued to speed up, straining his boosters. Smoke came from the backs of his dreads as his exhaust overflowed with power. And it was starting to work. Knuckles was slowly being pushed back towards the lava. Realizing this, he started to try and push Metal back, but the robot was far too strong. So Knuckles had to go with the next best thing.

He continued to strain against his attacker, as the too inched closer and closer to the edge of the platform. Knuckles felt his heel slide off of the platform, the heat from the lava beginning to rise up against him. Before his back foot was completely shoved off, he pulled sharply to the right, still holding onto Metal Knuckles, and then to the left. Metal was thrown off balance, and Knuckles stepped forward out of danger and then flung Metal Knuckles hard into the ground.

The robot hit the floor with a crash, and then slid for a moment before coming to a stop near the opposite end of the platform. And he lay there, unmoving.

* * * * *

“Okay, so another ship from the Egg Fleet has arrived. Very well, I’ll just position them with some more of the other Egg Pawns.” Metal Sonic said to himself as he was issuing orders to the new troops coming in. He heard heavy footsteps, like a defective robot, but ignored. At least, until he heard a voice, low and heavily metallic, and somehow familiar.

“And where shall I report, model 2.5?” It said, very much monotone.

“2.5? No Egg Pawn would know my model name. In fact, the only ones who would, would be the Emperor and…” Metal Sonic whipped around quickly. “Model 3?”

* * * * *

Knuckles slowly inched his way towards Metal Knuckles, his hands up in defense. He had only just moments ago played possum to get in a good attack, and he wouldn’t put it past the robot to do the same. But as he got nearer, he was able to tell that Metal Knuckles was definitely out. His eyes had dimmed, and next to him was a small cylinder, in which Knuckles could see what he was looking for.

“Finally!” Knuckles scrambled to grab the container. He scooped it up, and held it carefully. He slid the top open and slowly poured out its contents onto the floor. The green gems glistened in the light, glowing, it seemed, at being near their guardian. Knuckles then pulled out the rest of the shards, and held them together, closing his eyes. The shards began to shake, and there was the sound of rocks rubbing together. A bright light came out from the center of it all, and as it dimmed down Knuckles was examining the fully reformed emerald. “Good thing I brought the shards from the island, now I should be able to minimize this. It may come in handy later.” Knuckles stood up fully, and was about to shrink the Master Emerald, when he heard a noise. It was faint, but clear. It was laughter.

“Or, it could come in handy now!” Knuckles was knocked back as a flash of red went by him. He looked to see Metal Knuckles standing by the Master Emerald across from him. “Emerald captured.”

“Dang, I can’t believe I fell for that! You’re gonna pay! Now give back the emerald!”

“After I’ve fought so hard to get it from you? Never! In fact, I’m going to use your little emerald here to rid myself of you once and for all!” Metal Knuckles secured the Emerald and then jumped up on top of it. Knuckles merely stood, watching as a familiar scene played out.

Metal Knuckles reached down and opened up the casing on his central area, revealing his energy core. He then closed his eyes as the Master Emerald started to pulse. Energy crackled around him, and then began to fly into his core like lightning. After a short while the energy began to die down, and Metal Knuckles jumped off, whipping his casing shut as he curled up into a tight ball. A flash of light went out from him, and the transformation was complete.

“Hyper Metal Knuckles has been unleashed!” he said, arms spread wide. Hyper Metal’s armor was now glowing a bright, almost pink, red, and there was a slight aura around him. He was also now simply floating in the air.

“I thought the only one that could do that was the Metal Sonic I defeated when Eggman first came to the island!” Knuckles said as he looked at his new opponent.

“Of course not! When he built me, he realized that a robotic version of the guardian should have the ability to utilize the Chaos energies. So he put a chaos power adapter in me, a more advanced version of that used in Mecha Sonic.”

“More advanced, eh? Well, I beat him, I can take you!”

“Yes, you may have beaten Mecha, but my core can hold energy far better than his. In other words, I don’t need to recharge.”

“Then you won’t mind me using this!” Knuckles dashed for the Master Emerald, already attempting to draw out energy.

“Not going to happen!” Hyper Metal Knuckles yelled. He quickly dashed downwards, hovering in front of the Master Emerald just before Knuckles reached it. Knuckles pulled up, just as Hyper Metal predicted. He merely stuck his arm up, and smacked Knuckles with the back of his hand. Knuckles slid backwards until he started going down the ledge of the walkway. Hyper Metal laughed. “All this power! It’s just too perfect!”

“You’re power won’t be able to help you forever!” Knuckles said as he ran back up at Hyper Metal. He merely dodging the enraged echidna, floating up into the air.

“Honestly! Is that the best you have?”

“No actually.” Knuckles said. Hyper Metal had reacted just as Knuckles had hoped. He knew the robot would just mess with him for a while, especially after the beating he’d just given him. And now was Knuckles’ only chance to get back into the fight. He had to work quickly.

He grabbed the Master Emerald, and quickly muttering an incantation he shrunk it down to miniature size. He had already whipped forward as he grabbed the emerald, and was now starting to fall off the edge of the platform. “Chaos is power…” he started.

Hyper Metal had by now noticed Knuckles was seemingly taking the Master Emerald into the lava. If the emerald was destroyed, he would’ve failed his current primary mission, even if he succeeded in his secondary one. He couldn’t let that happen. He turned towards the ground and began to dash for Knuckles.

“…power is enriched by the heart…” The Master Emerald had started to glow brighter.

“You’re not getting away that easily!”

“…the server is the one who unifies the Chaos…” Knuckles was surrounded by light, and his equipment flew off his hands.

“No… it can’t be!” Hyper Metal pulled up, landing back on the platform. An orb of green energy rose up in front of him. As the light dimmed down, he gazed in wonderment at the figure floating there.

Super Knuckles smirked as he looked at Hyper Metal. He was surrounded by an aura of energy, and his fur was flashing slightly between his normal tone and a lighter one. “So what was that about your power being perfect?” Super Knuckles said.

“It makes no difference what you do! I am still more powerful than you!” Hyper Metal began to float up to Knuckles level. “Let’s finish this.”

“Gladly,” Super Knuckles said plainly, before dashing forward.

* * * * *

“Woah, I can’t believe it! He went super using the Master Emerald! And since when could robots do that?” Sonic said as he watched the new battle unfold.

“Well, he is the guardian. He must have some special ability to be able to do that. In fact, with all the experience you’ve had with the Chaos Emeralds, I think you could probably do it too.” Tails explained. “As for Metal Knuckles, maybe some special power core or something?”

* * * * *

Super Knuckles hit Hyper Metal with a punch to his mid section, but Hyper Metal replied with a hard kick to Super Knuckles’ side. The two Chaos fueled fighters were moving so fast you could hardly keep up with them, and neither seemed to be gaining the upper hand. They were either blocking each other’s attacks or launching their own as they slowly made their way back towards the center through their mid-air battle.

They were now fighting above the very pathway they’d been moving through just moments ago. Super Knuckles managed to knock Hyper Metal off his balance and took a hold of him and threw him, launching him downwards in between the two rails. Hyper Metal stuck out his arms, slowing himself down. He then pushed off, heading straight up towards Super Knuckles, and heading right back into their former flurry of attacks.

They were now almost to the center and Hyper Metal was beginning to get the upper hand. “You can’t last much longer, original! I’m sure even with the Master Emerald’s power you’ll need rings to stay at full power!”

“Well you won’t survive long enough to find out!” Super Knuckles yelled. He grabbed onto Hyper Metal’s arms, and started to spin around. He gained more and more speed until he finally let go, the force of the throw sending him and Hyper Metal in opposite directions. Super Knuckles stopped after a few feet, but the stunned Hyper Metal went flying towards the center platform, and slammed, back first, into the furnace, creating an almost comically perfect body shaped dent.

And that’s when the trouble started. First, a siren began to sound throughout the room as the furnace began to shake. Slowly it began to spin, and as it revolved fire shot out of the pipes on top. And as Super Knuckles looked around at what was happening below him, Hyper Metal laughed.

“Oh yes, now you’ve done it. This rooms lava defense system has been activated. You should be really glad you can fly right now.”

He was right in saying this, because as he spoke, the lava in the room began to rise, till all the platforms were separated by the lake, except for two which were still connected by rail. Sonic and Tails’ wasn’t one of them.

“Woah, the lava rose! Did you see that Sonic?” Tails said. Sonic merely looked at him, remembering that one time on the Egg Carrier.

“This means Knuckles will have to fight above all this lava. If he starts to fall, it’s all over.”

“Hmhmhmmmm, he’s right you know.” Hyper Metal laughed as he pried himself out of his crater. He dropped to the floor, and then floated back up to Super Knuckles’ level. “So, shall we continue?”

Super Knuckles didn’t say anything and merely charged forward. He swung at Hyper Metal, and the fight continued. The two fighters moved around the room, keeping close to the ceiling, but still slowly lowering. They would fight, dash to another area, and continue. Soon they were almost down to the platforms. Hyper Metal caught Super Knuckles with a punch to the stomach, and he went flying away, slowly falling closer to the lava. He regained his balance just in time to slide just above the surface of the fiery lake, but still managed to hover above it. He jumped back at Hyper Metal, and managed to lay a few good hits to him before the robot was able to start countering again.

The fight raged on for what seemed like an eternity, both fighters refusing to yield. Super Knuckles was starting to get annoyed.

“Just give up already!” He yelled mid-attack.

“Never! I will destroy you!”

“Fine have it your way, but I’m getting tired of this! I’m gonna finish you now!” Super Knuckles jumped back, and then started to blast straight for the ceiling. He came to a dead stop just inches from it, and flipped over, standing on the ceiling. He crouched up, and then jumped down, headed straight for Hyper Metal, who merely stood there, waiting to attack. But Super Knuckles swerved at the last second, and Hyper Metal was thrown off guard. Super Knuckles then grabbed onto him as he went by, and started to go into a drill drive. Straight towards the lava.

“You don’t really intend on going all the way, do you?” Hyper Metal asked as he struggled to get free. Super Knuckles said nothing, and merely focused on the lava. They were getting closer, the heat rising up. They were only a few feet from it, and coming up fast. Super Knuckles then pulled up quickly, letting go of Hyper Metal at the same time. The robot kept moving, and impacted the lava.

Molten rock flew up into the air as Super Knuckles backed up to the central platform. Metal Knuckles hadn’t been completely destroyed however. The lava was thick, and he was floating just halfway in. Just as Super Knuckles had hoped. He walked to the edge, folding his arms, looked down at the defeated robot.

“No it’s time for me to ask a few questions. What exactly is Eggman planning? Why bring back all his older robots, he isn’t usually one for doing that.”

“You silly little organics…” Metal Knuckles chuckled as he continued to slowly sink into the lava. “You still think Dr. Robotnik is behind all this. No, he’s the least of your worries, for my new master is much more powerful. And the Emperor doesn’t mess around.”

“You mean some one else is commanding you? Who?”

“Oh, you’ll find out soon enough. In fact, just wait a few seconds.” There was a pause as Super Knuckles stopped to listen, and then there was a crackling like speakers coming to life.

Greetings, organics.” The strangely familiar voice began. “This is your future ruler speaking. Some of you may not yet know, and so I shall inform you. Your former enemy, Dr. Robotnik, or Eggman as some know him, has been eliminated. By me. Your new emperor. And, to first show the might of my empire, a little demonstration. No doubt many of you have had to deal with the Black Arms for the past few days. They have been quite a thorn in my side as well, so let’s get rid of them, shall we?

There was a silence, and then the voice spoke again. “Keep your eyes on the sky, and witness the full power of the Android Empire’s Ultimate weapon, crafted by my original’s creator!

Obviously something had happened, but deep down in the middle of a lava filled base, you don’t know much of what’s happening in the outer world. But Metal Knuckles certainly seemed pleased.

“So, they did fire it. Good. You fools stand no chance. With the power of the Eclipse Cannon, the Empire will conquer this pitiful world! I may have failed, but it matters not now. You’ll never make it out of this base anyway. Do the words “self destruct” mean anything to you?” Metal Knuckles laughed maniacally as he finally slid down into the lava, silenced once and for all.

“Self destruct? This place is gonna blow!” Super Knuckles quickly dashed over to where Sonic and Tails were standing as the alarm began to sound. He grabbed them, and merely instructing the two to hang on, he blasted through the ceilings and floors of the base, one after the other, eventually coming to stop and landing on the roof of the fortress, where he finally powered down, exhausted. As he lay back gasping, he looked up to the sky, and immediately his eyes opened in shock and realization.

“I can’t believe it…” He said, almost whispering to himself.

“What? What can’t you believe?” Sonic asked. He obviously hadn’t turned around, and he certainly didn’t hear what Metal Knuckles had said.

“Eclipse cannon… my original’s creator… android empire… I know who the one leading the robots is.”

“Who?”

“Shadow.”

————————————————————————————————————

Previous Chapter.

Index.

Next Chapter.

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