The thirteenth chapter of Flashfire212's Book Two: The Sickness
Chapter Thirteen: Target Locked Edit
Will woke to the sensation of someone prodding his foot with a stick. He opened his eyes sleepily, thinking he would see the red and blue of Blood’s fur. What he saw instead was a mixture of red dreadlocks with purplish hair on top.
“Lara-Su!” Will yelped, surprised. His sister had been ages away, back at home. What was she doing here?
“Hey Will, how’s the training going?” she asked. Will shook his head to remove all shock, before responding.
“Yeah, good sis. I’m stronger and faster than I was before.”
“Hard to believe, but I bet you still couldn’t beat me.” Lara-Su’s smile was warm and comforting as she kept the banter up. Will grabbed his jacket and sat up.
“What’s up? Why did you come out here? I mean, why would you be out in the Forest of Light? It’s a week’s walk from home.” Lara-Su motioned towards the exit of the tent.
“Come out and we’ll explain.”
“We?” Will walked out into the sunshine, where he instantly noticed the amount of newcomers. Maddy and Sonic were laughing with Sonia and Manic, while Shadow showed Shade the weights Will had been using in his training, complete with the holes from the glass punch. Finally, Ronan and Blood were involved in an extremely animated conversation about energy and super forms with Kyle and Tails.
“How?” was the only thing Will could think of saying. Lara-Su nodded, knowing how to read her little brother like a book.
“Dad contacted us through his link with the Master Emerald three days ago, telling us to meet him here. We Chaos Controlled as close as we could before our heads started buzzing, then walked the rest of the way.” Will noted the large mound of bags, weapons and backpacks stacked up near Shadow’s tent.
“So…you’re going to be staying here for a while?” Will asked, studying his sister’s eyes for an answer. He saw it nearly instantly.
“As long as it takes. When Dad gets here…” A fast-moving bulge in the ground came from a similar path as the one Knuckles had taken before, moving faster then anything Will had seen before. Sonic and the other elders had all seen this phenomena before though, moving back slightly.
“What is it, Dad?” Shade asked carefully, noting the nerves on his father’s face.
“Just don’t face him when he surfaces, Shade!” Shadow yelled back. Will and Lara-Su kept their gazes fixed upon the same point as the ground started cracking, then a red blur raced out, sending dirt and rocks flying into the air. Will couldn’t turn fast enough, so his face was covered with dirt, mud and rocks. He swung a hand over his face, mopping up the mud and dirt that had coated his eyes and started laughing as he saw just who the blur had been. Knuckles stood tall atop a boulder that had followed him out of the tunnel, with everyone else either on the ground covered in mud or just standing there with rubble covering them. There was a single exception to that rule: Maddy had been able to form a wall of water between herself and the spray, so she was standing behind a wall of brown water. As everyone cleaned themselves up, they laughed and carried on, in the river and camp.
“So, Knuckles, we got your message, but why did you want all of us here?” Tails asked, his wet fur still full of dirt, giving him a more brown sheen than normal, making him look older than he was. Knuckles nodded, accepting the bowl of hot stew Maddy was offering him before answering.
“I have the co-ordinates of Jacob’s current base. It’s too heavily guarded for a solo entry, so I had all of you come out here to prepare and then accompany me.”
“Does that include us, dad? I want a chance to make Jacob feel the pain he put me under! I’m stronger, faster and more skilled than ever, so why wouldn’t I win?” Will asked, flexing his muscles and attracting a long glance from Sonia. Maddy gently hit her older sister in the back of the head, returning her gaze from Will’s well-toned body, including the bald patches where Ronan and the others had implanted the inhibitor gates.
“No, Will, you’re not ready. I would love to have you and Shadow and Sonic and all the others with me, but we can’t afford to lessen your training. Lara-Su and Manic have offered to stay, because I need Maddy and Shadow.”
“You what?” Maddy asked, confused. Shadow nodded, as if he had been expecting this.
“I need you two. Maddy, we know that one of them is a pyrokinetic, and a very powerful one at that. You’re a skilled hydrokinetic, as producing that wall of water proved, so you should be able to counteract her skill with fire. Shadow…”
“Let me guess: one of the roles involves the planting of explosives, or a sniper, and you want me on that?” Shadow’s eyes shone with the mention of explosions or shooting Dark Acolytes. Knuckles rubbed his forehead, before responding. "Actually, there were rumors of heavy Eggman tech infestations. I don’t want Sonic in there because he’ll probably go crazy…”
“As if I would.”
“So I think you’d be better. You’re more level-headed in combat.” Knuckles finished, striking Sonic in the back of the head to make him shut up. Will was still sitting there, his eyes reflecting his fury at not being allowed to go. A flicker of red came into his eyes, but faded into his hazel irises. He stood, turned and ran off, grabbing his swords and pack as he passed their storage point, reaching a speed that made the newcomers and Knuckles’ jaws drop, before jumping and flying away. Blood stood and looked on after Will.
“I guess I’d better be going after him.” The well-built ancient hedgehog muttered, turning to follow Will, only to have Knuckles and Lara-Su both stand.
“No, Blood, he’s my problem.” Knuckles said.
“Our problem, dad.” Lara-Su corrected him. Manic, who was sitting nearest to the heap, threw Knuckles and Lara-Su three sheaths. When Knuckles withdrew the swords in his sheaths, he smiled, recognizing the blades. Lara-Su checked that the small rapier was fixed in place, before nodding to her dad. It took Knuckles slightly longer to set the belt and both swords onto himself due to his mitten-like gloves, but he was soon ready as well.
“We’ll be back soon. Hopefully he’s still in one piece.”
Will landed roughly near a cliff. He almost swore he saw an echidna cradling a twin-tailed fox at the bottom of the cliff, but they disappeared as he looked closer. He headed slightly inland to a small clearing, where he spun, planting a powerful kick into a tree. He dived to the left, crushing a small shrub under his shoulder. He drew his saber, stabbing it halfway through the tree with ease before attempting to withdraw it. The blade wouldn’t budge. He punched the tree just below the blade with bone-shattering strength, but it did nothing. Will stood back, before using those newly charged reflexes to throw a insanely-fast set of punches into the tree, snapping the thick tree half-way through. As he did so, he heard a gentle tap as Lara-Su landed, followed by a loud thud as his dad emerged from the ground. Will returned his saber to its sheath, not bothering to watch his father and sister.
“Will, come back. I decided that you weren’t ready to face Jacob because you’re still getting your strength back.” Knuckles said, using that same calm voice he had before trying to hit Ronan. Will didn’t fall for it though, responding in a very similar voice.
“Dad, you know I want to be the one to face him, and if it means you have to prove why I can’t face him by fighting me, then so be it.” Will turned to face them at that point, taking off his jacket and revealing a fighter’s build, very similar to his fathers. Knuckles sighed, facing his son.
“I wish I didn’t have to do this, but you asked to be schooled, so I’m going to school you well.” Knuckles taunted. Will remained quiet, withdrawing into the Chaos Force, something Shadow had been showing him recently.
“Uh, Dad, he looks like he’s planning something…” Lara-Su commented, but Knuckles wasn’t listening, instead aiming to grab his son and throw him. Will stayed completely still, almost as if he was waiting for Knuckles to be in grabbing range. Knuckles dived, rocketing for Will. He almost felt guilty for using an attack like this on his son, but that wasn’t going to stop him. And then Will moved. To Lara-Su, it was amazing. One second, he was about to be grabbed by his father. The very next second, he was behind Knuckles, with his own hand wrapped around Knuckle’s ankle, throwing his father over his shoulder like he weighed nothing. Knuckles landed lightly, with a smile on his face, as Will opened his eyes.
“I have to admit, Blood, Shadow and Sonic did a great job with your speed and reflexes. Still, you lack a certain part of the full set.”
“Oh, and what’s that, Dad?” Will returned, still frowning.
“Pure strength.” At that, Knuckles dived into the ground, throwing up dirt and rocks. Will looked around, confused. He knew of times where his dad would use this tactic, but he didn’t know how Knuckles would use it. Suddenly, Knuckles emerged, an arms length away from Will, and the two lost all fancy control, going down into wrestling, trying to throw the other one off. The two of them were perfectly matched, Knuckles being broader and stronger than his son, but Will being younger and slightly faster. Lara-Su watched, but she realized just what could happen, considering that either of them could rip the other one open with their knuckle blade. There was only one thing for it.
“CHAOS CONTROL!” she screamed, forming two orbs of Chaos Energy around both of the brawling echidnas, forcing them away from each other. She watched both of them for specific signs that they would go after each other or her when released, but neither gave her that sign. Knuckles looked tense but proud, while Will just shattered the Chaos Energy around himself, sitting in the dirt like a little kid. She released Knuckles, who landed almost cat-like, walking over to Will.
“Do you see what I mean, Will? You’re strong, fast and have amazing reflexes, but to fight Jacob, you’re going to need more.” Knuckles said, wrapping an arm around his son. Both had minimal injuries, and Lara-Su had a sneaking suspicion that both had lessened the impact of their blows with Chaos Energy.
“You’re right, but let me say that Jacob fights dirty. He’s probably set up some traps and such, and you’d be foolish to think that this base wouldn’t be set up to deal with an enemy such as yourself. You’re going to need more energy than what he’d expect to beat him…” Will trailed off as Knuckles raised his hand.
“You’d be surprised what Tails brought, but yeah.” Lara-Su walked over, giving her brother and father a hug each.
“Well, you worked that problem out, so let’s head back.”
“Right.” Before either of the kids could blink, Knuckles was in the ground again. Will grinned, showing his teeth to his older sister.
“Probably hungry for more of Maddy’s cooking. I know I am.” Will and Lara both laughed at that, running and taking off simultaneously. As they arrived at the camp, Knuckles was sitting down to a bowl of stew. Maddy walked over and wrapped Will in a hug, as his arms snaked around her.
“Good luck, Maddy. You’ll beat her, I assure you.” Will whispered, his muzzle close to her ear, deep in her blue fur. She pulled away, and Knuckles’ team all waved goodbye as they stood, Shadow still holding his small bottle of Col’nesian alcohol Ronan had given him. They all left in their own ways, Knuckles digging, Maddy, Shadow, Sonia and Shade running, and Tails and Kyle flying.
“Well, now there’s more for us to eat!” Blood cheered, filling his bowl again.