The twelfth chapter of Flashfire212's Book Two: The Sickness.

Chapter Twelve: Reflexive Actions Edit

Knuckles emerged from the ground to see where he was. Ahead of him was a tower, smaller than the Monolith or Eggman’s citadel, but larger than most things he’d seen. He took a gamble and decided that the tower was where he would find Lien-Da. He grinned, flexing his muscular red arms. This sort of trip was super easy. He leant back, about to dive into the ground to get closer, only to feel a gun being pressed into his back.

“Move slowly, echidna. Don’t give me an excuse,” came the very familiar voice from the past.

“Nack, is that you?” Knuckles asked, staying completely still. He felt the gun move from the small of his back, and turned tentatively to see the purple weasel in the cowboy hat. Nack was slightly smaller than Knuckles, and would have gotten battered instantly if it wasn’t for the automatic pistol he now wielded.

“Heh, upgraded for more firepower, huh Nack?” Knuckles asked tentatively, watching Nack’s dark blue eyes for any signs of instability. He saw none.

“That’s right, Knuckles. Keep up the tough guy banter. If Lien-Da hadn’t asked me to keep an eye out for suspicious folks, you never would have been caught, and I think you know that.” Knuckles frowned inwardly; hiding the fact that he knew Nack was right. Instead, he started focusing on his Chaos Energy reserves, to the somewhat warm, organic barrier positioned to stop him from using his genetic abilities. Quickly, the barrier started to collapse, with an onrush of energy following it straight to his eyes. He smiled faintly as his pupils started to split in three and the purple irises in his eyes started to turn red, expanding into the whites of his eyes. However, Nack noticed this and struck Knuckles on the back of the head with his pistol. Unconsciousness was swift.

Will stood in the center of a square, with four hedgehogs facing him all in combat positions. Will was unarmed but for a set of four weights upon his wrists and ankles, while the hedgehogs were all armed. Shadow had Will’s saber, while Sonic the broadsword. Maddy had her hammer, while Blood was unarmed, but when Will though about the fact Blood was a few thousand-year-old being who had lived through many battles, that fact didn’t count for much.

“Begin.” Ronan ordered, and the training match was on. Sonic quickly started running around Will as fast as he could, whipping up a tornado and becoming a blur. Will just closed his eyes, allowing his reflexes to grab the source of the sound and throw him. Sonic was quickly caught by Blood as Maddy and Shadow rapidly approached. Maddy stopped short, lashing out with a whip of water at Will’s arms as Shadow leapt at Will with a fiery kick. Will swung his right arm up, allowing the heavy weight to take the blow of Shadow’s kick, while using his left to cut the flow of the water whip, splattering the water everywhere. Shadow tried again, using the blue-hot flames he could make his air-shoes generate straight upon Will as they coated his legs. Will grabbed Shadow’s legs this time, throwing him at Blood as he faced off with Maddy. She swung her hammer low, aiming at his legs. Will jumped, the hammer impacting with the ground with a loud ‘PIKO’. Maddy swung again, this time hitting Will on one of the weights, flipping him. However, her boyfriend was smarter than she thought, landing on his right hand which was buffered by the weight, knocking the mallet from her hands, then flipping himself upright, planting a single weight-enhanced kick into her already-prepared hands, sending her backwards. Blood raced in now, throwing a punch every few seconds, his fists speeding up rapidly. However, Will sped up just as fast, dodging most of the strikes and blocking those he couldn’t with his weights, all the while concentrating on his gates, opening one and channeling that energy into his arms, namely into generating body heat. Shadow was the first to notice the change in shape and color of the weights, which were little more than over-glorified sandbags bandaged to Will’s arms.

“Ronan, check that out. Will’s doing something to the sand.”

“Odd, considering that Will isn’t Earth-natured, and struggles with precision manipulation of Chaos Energy. I wonder what he’s planning,” came the response from the twin-tailed fox, who watched keenly as Will’s Chaos-enhanced reflexes sped him up to almost blurs. Not as fast as Sonic, and still slightly slower than Blood’s punches, but the viewers all knew what Blood was capable of, having been seen throwing a punch every second and faster, a punch every half-second. To Will, all he could see was black blurs as Blood’s black gloves flew towards him, about to strike him in the nose. Rapidly, and faster than Maddy thought possible, Will brought the sandbag he’d been transforming into the line of the punch, blocking it. There was a loud shatter, and Blood pulled his hand away to reveal a glove cut and blood leaking out from glass shards, and a near-complete lining of glass in the sandbag. Shadow and Sonic were astonished, as Maddy soaked her hands in water and placed them on the blood, using another technique Sonic hadn’t seen from the years she’d spend away from him with Will. Ronan clapped.

“Well done, Will. I hadn’t expected you to use that sort of tactic,” approved the black and green fox, examining the green glass coating the bag. Will smiled, with sweat leaking through his fur, and bruises starting to appear from blows he’d taken but not felt from Blood’s furious battering.

“I…I think I’m going to…” he started, before collapsing. Maddy raced over, but Ronan just slid forward, parting the fur around one of Will’s temples, revealing a bruise just adjacent to it.

“Go ahead, Maddy, heal that head wound, if you could even call it that. I think it’s also partly do to exhaustion. Echidna bodies aren’t designed for hyper-fast reflexes, and this sort of training methods will put a massive strain on his body.” Ronan nodded to Sonic and Shadow, who dragged Will into his tent to sleep. Blood looked at his hand, then shook his head, letting his long red and blue hair swing before speaking.

“He’s getting fast. If he opened just one more gate…”

“He would have been fast enough to make every single blow you threw at him miss. I know. I hope he doesn’t move to quickly through his gates though, or he’ll discover that they aren’t a true cure.”

“Still,” Blood muttered, thinking about his hand and experimentally moving it, making sure there was no glass left within it, “I wonder how Knuckles is doing…”

Knuckles found himself in a white room, lying on a very comfortable bed. He blinked, feeling pain from that, which he attributed to the partial-transformation of his eyes and the blow to the back of the head. He heard a woman start to talk in a foreign language, which took him a while to place. Suddenly, it hit him. She was talking Bes’kar, an ancient echidna language. True, many people spoke Bes’kar, including Knuckles himself, but this was different. He could have sworn the voice was Tikal’s, except for the depth of the voice. While Tikal spoke with a voice that almost echoed through her ghost-like state, this voice was deeper than that. Still too high to be a male, but very few had a voice like that. Knuckles opened his eyes, ignoring the pain that flew into his head. There was a red echidna there, with a purple-tinted topknot. She was dressed in leather, and although it wasn’t visible, Knuckles knew she would have a bullwhip nearby.

“Lien-Da…” he murmured. She was quiet, before speaking again.

“Yes, Knuckles, it is me. I take it Nack knocked you around a bit,” she purred. Knuckles sat up, again having to ignore a massive amount of pain in his head. She faced him, muttering in Bes’kar.

“Excuse me?” Knuckles asked, “But I’m not here for a courtesy visit. I’m here to find out why you sent a legion to a mountain village near the Forest of Light, holding the local population hostage. That resulted in an alliance with Eggman, which in turn led to Metal Sonic nearly killing Will.”

“Is he ok?” Lien-Da blurted, astonished.

“Yeah, he’s fine now. Tell me!” Knuckles shouted, throwing himself out of the ornate bed and spinning to face her. Lien-Da couldn’t keep surprise from her face, looking towards her lapel as if there was a mic on there. Knuckles grabbed that side of the lapel, crushing it. Indeed, the leather gave way, but the small microphone that was there shattered under Knuckle’s intense strength.

“I…I didn’t send anyone out near the Forest of Light!” she protested, with no avail. Knuckles growled, his hands grabbing Lien-Da and throwing her into a wall, where he held her, his namesakes hovering mere centimeters from her nose. Knuckles wasn’t shy about hurting people for answers, Lien-Da knew.

“I said, who did you send?” Knuckles roared, and now there was no option but tell him.

“I didn’t sent him, he went renegade. His name is Jacob. He took a quarter of our elites, and I know he’s been recruiting people from other species, other than echidna. He was a General, and he’s known not to listen to me anymore. I don’t know where he’s based anymore, but my son Ziber is gathering information for us.” Knuckles frowned. He recalled Ziber as being slightly younger than Will, a red echidna with scars on his muzzle, remains from repairs to his nose, which Rutan, his older brother, had accidentally smashed as a child.

“Correction, mum, was.” Rutan stormed in. Behind him was Ziber, then the typical honor guard, all of whom drew weapons when they saw Knuckles holding the Grand Master against the wall. Knuckles backed down, so Ziber knocked him down with a spinning kick to the head, something that looked more dance than combat. Knuckles started to force himself back up, as Lien-Da started screaming.

“Ziber, how could you! He’s your uncle!”

“He was holding you up against a wall! I wasn’t just going to let him hurt you!” Ziber yelled back, as Rutan knelt to help Knuckles up.

“Ziber, you know your uncle’s reputation. You know what he’s like. Why not listen to him. Rutan, help your uncle out. Ziber and I will discuss Jacob and his misconduct in private.” Two honor guard members dragged Knuckles out of the room, then two more slammed the door shut as Rutan and the remaining two got out. Rutan helped his uncle up.

“Come on, Knuckles. You’re going to have to go now.”

“What, so you’re mother can’t help me?” Knuckles shouted, finding a Dark Acolyte start going for the axe on its belt before Rutan could stop it.

“You’re right, she can’t, but I can.” Rutan withdrew a map and handed it to the Guardian, who was stunned.

“Ziber gave it to me. He wanted me to go defeat Jacob myself with the Dark Legion, but I think it would be better if you go, because you have more reason for it.” Knuckles opened his mouth, but Rutan silenced him, handing him a small bag with food, water and the map in it.

“Go now. It would be easier if you got into the ground before Nack noticed you.” Knuckles nodded, wrapping his nephew in a hug.

“Thanks, Rutan. I owe you one. Better be off now, so goodbye, and good luck with Jacob.”

“No, good luck to you…” Rutan said, watching Knuckles glide out the window and dived straight into the ground, tunneling straight back towards his old tunnel, from which he could head back to the camp. Rutan watched for a little while longer, saying the words on his lips as he watched his uncle dig away.

“You’re going to need it.”

Characters Edit

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