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Almost everyone in Hedgehog Village on Seaside Island was preparing for the spooky holiday of Halloween. Team Sonic currently prepared in Amy’s House, a colorful hut stilted above a small pond.
Sonic, the blue Hedgehog with green eyes and quills protruding from his head and back, laid lazily on a purple couch. He wore a brown scarf, white gloves, and running shoes. As Sonic rested, his green eyes restlessly scanned a local catalog of Halloween costumes. With a quiet groan, Sonic dropped the catalog on the floor as he kicked his feet restlessly.
Nearby in the room was Amy the green eyed pink Hedgehog, sitting cross legged on the floor as she carved a pumpkin. Amy’s quills were curved and well styled much like hair, and she wore a gold-buttoned red shirt. As Amy carefully gouged out a piece of pumpkin flesh, she tossed the orange waste into a bin.
Rather than properly toss a chunk of pumpkin, Knuckles the tall red echidna with purple eyes, opted to try eating it. With one chomp, Knuckles’ face immediately scrunched up. His eyes met with Amy’s as she gave him a judgmental glare, before handing the bin to him.
On the other side of the room, Sticks, the orange and brown badger with blue eyes, worked on a more complicated project. Her hair was held in large twin locks. Sticks wore a brown cloth top and skirt, as well as furred boots. Sticks was putting finishing garments on a ghostly scarecrow draped in a white cloth with a jack-o-lantern head, of which was meant to ward off most of the supposed evil Halloween spirits she was worried about.
Finished cutting out one last chunk of pumpkin flesh, Amy looked over her finished work. With a satisfied smirk, Amy spun around her jack-o-lantern, revealing a well proportioned face with a mildly threatening glare.
“I’m glad to have this holiday around to promote artistic creation.” Said Amy, “How’s your carving going Knuckles?”
“Well I’ve been told I’m an artistic professional, so probably good!” Replied Knuckles.
Knuckles raised his work for the others to see, revealing a pumpkin with a wobbly carved eye, a bashed in hole for a mouth, and a carving knife as a nose. Amy chuckled lightly at this sight, while Sticks scoffed.
“There’s no way either of those meek squash puppets will ward off all the evil spirits!” Sticks said with a huff, “Put your backs into it if you want to survive!”
Sonic and Amy sighed almost simultaneously, while Knuckles shot up to his feet and said, “Hey, I believe in my pumpkin! While he may look kind on the outside, he’s secretly stern and brooding on the inside!”
“Even so,” interjected Sonic, “How are pumpkins and your sheet covered scarecrow supposed to ward off supposedly powerful spirits?”
“Because its managed to keep multiple generations, myself included, alive! That’s why!”
“Oh, so you’re putting your trust in what the majority of society says works?” Asked Sonic.
Sticks raised her finger as if about to object, but then looked down in thought. “Oh no, you’re onto something Sonic! What if everyone’s just been manipulated into thinking this works by the evil spirits, and jack-o-lanterns actually invite them into our homes?!” Sticks turned and scowled at her scarecrow jack-o-lantern, “You can’t fool me!!!”
Amy sighed and glared at Sonic.
“What? I didn’t put that into her head.”
“You might as well have!” Said Amy, “Besides, why aren’t you getting ready for any of the festivities?”
“Why bother? I already know how Halloween will go down.” Said Sonic, “There’s going to be a boring party in town. Then Eggman will attack, probably with some plan about using fear against the village. And after we beat him, we’re all going to be tired and just wind up going home.”
Before Amy could chastise Sonic, the front door of her hut flew open. Sonic and the others turned to see Miles Tails Prower, a yellow, blue eyed, two tailed fox. Tails wore white gloves similar to Sonic’s, A brown work belt strapped around his waist and shoulder, and a multipurpose pair of goggles strapped on top his head. He ran inside with an urgent look in his eyes.
“Guys! I just found out Eggman is up to no good at the beach!” Said Tails.
“Oh no! I use that beach for swimming!” Lamented Knuckles.
“No, not that beach, the other one!”
“Oh no! Eggman is up to no good and making me run a longer distance than I feel like running today!”
Sonic jumped to his feet and asked, “What’s he doing over there? There’s not much to attack.”
I’m not sure about the details, but he’s excavating for something big and making a mess!” Answered Tails.
Amy huffed as she picked up her hammer and Said, “That’s gonna totally mess up the environment and just ruin the aesthetic of the whole area!”
“That’s no good, and there’s no time to waste, so let’s go!” Said Sonic.
Sonic beckoned the rest of the group and ran out he door first, followed by Tails, Sticks, and Amy. Knuckles groaned, and begrudgingly started to jog through the door after the others.
Elsewhere on Seaside Island, Dr. Eggman personally overlooked the scene of excavation from his flying vehicle, the Eggmobile. Dr. Eggman was a rather tall man with a bald head and an iconic brow mustache. He wore a militaristic red jacket with yellow cuffs and buttons, as well as white gloves and black boots. The Eggmobile was a spherical metal pod with an open air top.
Down on the beach, Eggman’s creations and minions, a division of Crabbots, partook in the manual labor. This involved digging, rock breaking, dirt moving, and other tasks they were not designed for. A large hole had already been excavated in the beach, leaving mounds of sand and dirt on the perimeter. Half protruding from the bottom of the hole was an old stone structure. The visible structure was a dirty, grey stoned, castle-like bastion, with a large half buried wooden door.
Things appeared to be moving slowly at this point, as some Bots struggled with the weight as they moved rocks and dirt. Many Bots had their efficiency lowered by overheating from the weather and overwork. Most of the initial digging was done by Mega, a towering cyclops robot that moved on treads. Mega was modified with a scooping bucket on it’s right arm, and a large drill on it’s left. Currently, Mega timidly scraped dirt around the sides far enough from the structure itself.
Dr Eggman leaned on the front of his egg mobile, anxiously tapping his fingers next to the controls. A small hand-fan, held still by Orbot, blew lukewarm yet refreshing air over Eggman’s head. Orbot, a short, red, sphere headed robot, hovered in the Eggmobile with Eggman.
“Ugh, the humidity today.” Started Eggman, “This is an awful lot of work! That tip off better be worth whatever's inside, otherwise I’m just going back to plan A for the week.”
“Don’t worry sir, I’m sure we’ll get something of value out of our hard work.” Said Orbot, “After all, this ruin looks as if it’s been undiscovered for many years, meaning we’re this first to see whatever lies inside!”
“Yeah, I’m going the first to take whatever lies in there!” Said Eggman, raising his posture confidently, “After all, stealing undiscovered and unknown power from ancients can only be rewarding and has yet to backfire on me!”
“Erm, well, I’m glad your feeling more confident at least.” commented Orbot.
From down in the excavation area, Cubot floated under Eggman’s Eggmobile. Cubot was a yellow, cube headed robot with similar design philosophy to Orbot.
“Hold on,” Said Cubot from below, “If we were told about this area by some mysterious message, doesn’t that mean someone else was here to know about it?”
Orbot attempted to silently tell Cubot to shut up with hand gestures, but Eggman heard the whole line and glared down at Cubot.
“That’s beside the point! You two just get back to work and stop ruining my day even further!” Yelled Eggman.
Orbot sighed and raised the small fan back toward Eggman’s head, while the Doctor resigned back into an anxious posture.
It was then when Sonic the Hedgehog suddenly ran up to the excavation pit, feet dragging right up to the edge. Eggman immediately glared over at the sound of Sonic’s annoying and trademark speed, realigning his Eggmobile to face the hedgehog. Sonic gave a small grin, as he proceeded to say, “Wow Eggman, digging through other people’s thousand year old junk again? I thought you were finally respectable.”
“For your information, this is an ancient temple, likely to harbor many incredible discoveries that could lead to increasing my standing in the world!” Replied Eggman, as he puffed up his posture in faux confidence.
Now Tails, Amy, and Sticks arrived next to Sonic, trailed by Knuckles who was grumbling as he ran. After a moment or two of awkward waiting on everyone’s part, Knuckles lined up next to the others. Overlooking the dig site, Amy gasped in an exaggerated tone while the others were getting ready in their battle poses.
“Eggman! This is clearly destructive to the local environment!” Said Amy. “Now who’s gonna enjoy this beach?”
“What’s the matter, can’t a guy partake in casual archaeological excavation?” Replied Eggman, “Besides, no one used this area of the beach anyway!”
“You’re no archeologist!” Yelled Tails. “You just want to steal whatever is valuable and break everything else with no regard to history!”
As if to punctuate Tails' point, Mega shifted to look at Team Sonic, accidentally hitting its arm into the structure, breaking some stones off.
“Yeah? Well that sounds like villain exclusion!” Said Eggman, “Besides, I do know a great archaeological term for this situation. Robots, Attack!”
As Eggman yelled the command, multiple Beebots flew out of hiding and into a formation behind him. Mega aligned itself toward the group's direction and wound up it’s drill arm, whilst multiple Crabbots dropped dirt and stones to turn and face the gang. Eggman himself appeared to be readying his Eggmobile to fire at them.
Expecting such a turn of events, Sonic, Tails, Amy, Knuckles, and Sticks readied themselves and counter charged at the horde of Badnik Robots. Sonic immediately ran fast past multiple Crabbots, and starter doing paced circles around Mega as a distraction. Knuckles and Amy followed in a head on charge and attacked the Crabbots in their moment of distraction. Sticks stayed further back, and got the attention of some Beebots by knocking one down with her boomerang. Tails opted to fly into the air by spinning his twin tails, and head toward Mega in an effort to make use of Sonic’s distraction method.
As Tails was flying towards the top of Mega, he pulled a circle shaped device from his belt. A laser blast suddenly flew by Tails' face, while three beebots flew directly at him. The trio of robot Bees continued firing at him as they cut him off midair. Tails managed enough aerial agility to avoid the blasts, but as the Beebots closed in to very close combat, he was grazed by one of the shots. Startled by the stinging pain on his shoulder, Tails resorted to flying backward, away from the Bots.
Suddenly, Tails heard Sonic shout “Look out!”, before barely evading a large scoop swinging by as Mega spun around, eye locked on Sonic. Lowering his altitude after the dodge, Tails watched Sonic clear another lap around Mega. With Sonic running at him, Tails picked him up spun him in the air for momentum. Seeing the three Beebots closing in, Tails launched Sonic at the Bots. In quick, simultaneous flashes of blue, two Beebots were destroyed and the third was flip-kicked to the ground.
“Aaugh!” Yelled Eggman, “Mega! Get your gears together and crush that Hedgehog already!”
With Mega’s next attack divulged across the battlefield by Eggman, Tails turned around and quickly flew towards the top of the towering robot. Lining itself up with Sonic, Mega raised it’s spinning drill arm and threw it down at him. Tails skirted above the spinning drill as it struck past. The drill crashed into the dirt, Sonic jumping above it with high speed, while rocks and clumps of dirt flew into the air with him. Tails landed on Mega’s shoulder next to its eye and attached the circular device in his hand, a magnetic clamp, to the metal hull.
Down on the ground, Amy could be seen pulling her hammer from a persistent Crabbot. As she tugged, Amy realized that it wouldn’t release it’s grasp of her weapon. The Crabbot was then pulled into the air by Amy as she swung it in circles. Knuckles then turned to her and punched the bot into pieces, leaving only a clamped claw on the hammer.
“Thanks Knuckles!” Said Amy.
“Your welcome!” Replied Knuckles, as he punched another Crabbot into the ground.
“Knuckles, Amy!” Yelled Sticks from nearby, “I got one more for ya!”
As another of the remaining Crabbots charged at Sticks, she struck her pole staff down in front of it. The Crabbot reacted by clamping a claw tightly onto the pole. Sticks smiled slyly as she lifted the robot over her shoulder and launched it towards Amy, who in turn smacked it out of the air with her hammer.
Looking back to his position, Tails pulled a small, advanced blowtorch off of his utility belt. Tails grasped the magnetic handle tightly and steadied his position on Mega’s shoulder. While Mega jerked around trying to line up another punch at Sonic, Tails lined up his small blowtorch in preparation for some sabotage. He was interrupted by a yell from Eggman, as he flew his Eggmobile towards Mega.
“Hey! Get off my robot!” Yelled Eggman.
A blue glow began to charge at the center front of Eggman’s vehicle. Tails knew he was about to be blasted off of Mega. Before he jumped out of the way, Tails saw Sonic launch into the air, spin balling into the Eggmobile. The lazer blast fired, but missed Tails and Mega completely as it blasted another chunk off the top of the Ruin. Tails watched Eggman spin uncontrollably, giving him a moment of opportunity.
While Mega attempted to catch Sonic with its bucket arm, Tails jabbed his blowtorch into the opposite arm’s shoulder. Mega seemed to notice the burning cut boring through it’s shoulder, as it suddenly jerked and threw it’s arm in the air. Tails managed to hang on and keep pressure down on the blow torch as Mega shifted and spun.
Eggman had straightened himself out now, and saw what Tails was up to. Before he could act, Eggman looked down as Amy lobbed Sonic at him with her hammer. The Eggmobile barely dodged backward out of the way.
“Stop that you rodent!” Yelled Eggman as Sonic fell to the ground. “Why are you attacking me so aggressively today!?”
“It’s just a sign of affection Egghead! I’d know!” Replied Sonic.
Before Eggman could retort, Mega’s drill arm spun up, raised and ready to strike down onto Sonic and Amy. Eggman smiled for a moment. Then another moment passed, as the arm slowly shifted and lowered unnaturally. Ripping metal screeched loudly over the battlefield, and everyone covered their ears. The arm then ripped off of Mega completely with flying sparks. The drill landed on Mega’s tread with a thud, whirring for a moment before losing momentum.
“Sorry about the noise!” Apologised Tails as he hovered down and turning off the blow torch.
“Aaugh!” Yelled Eggman again, “Fine, you can have this stupid stone hut, I’m leaving! Robots, retreat!”
Dr. Eggman lowered his vehicle so Cubot could latch onto the side before speeding away. Attempting to follow the retreat order, Mega looked down at the arm on it’s lap. After attempting to pick up the drill arm with it’s bucket for a few moments, Mega gave up and chased after Eggman, barreling through the sand on its tread. With Eggman gone, the gang was left in a hole full of robot parts, and a nearly collapsed portion of an ancient ruin.
“Well, that went reasonable well.” Commented Amy, “Though he did make a mess of the place.”
“Yep, we kicked his butt again.” Said Sonic, before he turned to Tails, “Good job up there buddy!”
“Thanks, I’m honestly surprised my new magnetic handle worked so well.” Replied Tails, as he leaned down and caught his breath, “Might’ve got myself shook up too much though.”
“Hey, why are we patting ourselves on the back when there’s a spooky ruin ominously sitting over there?!” Asked Sticks.
“Oh yeah! There’s probably all sorts of new archaeological discoveries just waiting in there!” Replied Tails.
“What? No!” Said Sticks, “Messing with something like that is a bad idea, unless you want to release a curse, or a secret underground society!”
“I thought we already did the secret underground society.” Commented Knuckles, “Or were they more of a legion?”
“Either way, Sticks has a point, we can’t just go poking around some ancient castle.” Said Amy.
“Thank you!” Replied Sticks.
“Aw, that’s no fun.” Said Sonic
“At least not without the proper warrants and paperwork!” punctuated Amy.
“Nevermind, screw you Amy.”
After a run to town, waiting in line, and a meeting with the Mayor, Amy and Tails got to explain the situation. Mayor Fink, a grey furred, somewhat egg shaped mouse with a top hat, seemed mildly upset about the destruction. He did, however, also show interest in their proposal for archaeological research.
The Mayor told Amy and Tails that he would allow their team to search through the ruin. The only conditions be that they don’t die, and anything of importance or value go to the villages historical society. Mayor Fink even offered to publicly laud and award them if they found something of great value inside, to which Tails had mixed feelings about. Though somewhat under the table, Amy was satisfied with verbal permission.
Somewhere along the way, news of the excavated ruin spread around town, spreading mass apathy about the situation. This did not mean the local news wouldn’t try to play up the discovery.
Standing at the edge of the excavated hole, Soar, the turquoise eagle wearing a pink polo shirt, readied his microphone. The Walrus camera man finished adjusting the lens on their TV camera, and began recording.
“This is Soar the Eagle reporting live from the dastardly digsite of a spooky manor. Of which is said to harbor some sort of wickedness!”
As the camera panned over the area, a stone fell from the top of the bastion. Knuckles, who was carrying robot parts out of the pit, walked nearby the camera.
“As you can see, this castle-like ruin has been revealed just days now before Halloween, a correlation our team believes is not coincidence!” Continued Soar. “Could this discovery mean Halloween his year will be far more terrifying? You should be sure to tune in as often as possible to find out!”
“Do is really have to? I don’t even own a TV.” Asked Knuckles.
“What? Oh, you can just watch at someone else’s house.” Replied Soar.
“Should I stop the recording?” Asked the Camera Man.
“You haven’t already? Yes, turn it off!”
Shortly after most other spectators got bored and left, Sonic, Tails and the group gathered at the door of the Ruin. After a moment of pushing on the large half-buried doors, everyone but Knuckles gave up and stepped back.
“It’s not budging at all!” Said Tails.
Continuing to push on the door to no avail, Knuckles Said, “What gives? I thought I was strong!”
“This place must’ve been here so long the door jammed.” Said Amy.
“Either the inside is buried too, or this is a pull door.” Suggested Tails.
Sticks threw her hands in the air dramatically, “Well, I guess we’re not getting inside, let’s go home!”
Sonic stepped in front of Sticks, “Hold on, what has you so pent up about this thing? It looks like any of the other ruins we’ve carelessly jumped into.”
“I’m pent up because it doesn’t!” Retorted Sticks, “The architecture is completely different from most of the ancient temples on this island! Not too mention I’ve never even heard any rumors about a place like this, which only means there’s unknown trouble here.”
“Sticks has a point,” Said Amy, “This place isn’t built like the other temples we’ve been to.”
Tails stared down at his wrist communicator device, running a scanner function on the Door. “I don’t have any good reading inside, either. So I can’t tell if its caved in or trapped.”
“So then what?” Asked Sonic. “You think we should just rebury this thing until Eggman comes back?”
“Actually no. While I may be an engineer, learning more of this architectural discovery is very exciting!” Said Tails, “Besides, I’m sure we can handle anything dangerous inside.”
Sticks sighed and lowered her arms in defeat, “Fine, but if there’s any form of curse in there, you’re the one gettin’ it for roping me into this.”
“Uh, sure, okay.” Replied Tails with a chuckle.
The group decided to look around the exposed structure for any openings or gaps inside. After a period of hovering around the roof of the bastion like outcropping, Tails saw the stone roof caved in where the structure was blasted by Eggman. Landing nearby, Tails looked more closely, and saw that multiple stones fell into a darkened hole. It was big enough that Tails would probably fit through.
“Find anything up there?” Asked Amy.
“Yeah, there’s a hole up here!”
“Let me have a look!” Responded Sonic.
Within a moment, Sonic ran up the side of the dig site. Sonic jumped high with his momentum, and arced himself toward Tails. Upon landed, a few more stones around the gap shifted. As one stone shifted under him, Tails wobbled and almost fell forward, before Sonic caught him by a tail.
“Woah, careful buddy.” Said Sonic as he released Tails' tail.
“Likewise Sonic!” Replied Tails, jabbing Sonic on the shoulder lightly.
Both of them steadied themselves around the gap in the structure, looking down into the obscured darkness. Pressing a button on his wrist device, Tails shined a light down inside. The two saw a tile floor about a few stories drop down. Tails wasn’t able to get much more of a view from here, but the floor appeared to be covered with some dirt and multiple fallen stones.
“Well, let’s go in!” Said Sonic.
Tails nodded, and grabbed Sonic by the arms as he propelled himself to the air with his tails. With a bit of careful shimmying, the two dropped into the gap, and lowered down to the floor. As they descended, the air became cold, smelling damp and dirty like a cave. Sonic jumped down from Tails’ grasp, and activated the luminescent lighting function on his uniform, lighting up the surrounding area with blue-tinted light.
Around them, Sonic and Tails saw the stone walls, which didn’t look much different inside aside from being damp. The floor was covered in stone debris around them. Walking to the front where the large door was, they saw a metal grated portcullis gate sitting in the way of the outside door. The wooden door pressed against the metal, likely due to the weight of the dirt outside.
“Woah, this place is kind of like a castle!” Said Sonic as they looked at the gate.
“Yeah. I think there might be a way to lift this, then we can open the main door,” Said Tails.
Hovering up to the top of the portcullis grate, Tails found old rusty chains connected to the metal gate. The chains led up into a mechanical structure above the gate, before being followed down the side to a winch wheel sitting adjacent to the opposite wall.
“Oh, this must open it!” Said Tails as the winch came into view.
Sonic ran up next to it, and said, “Ooo, rudimentary.”
“Yeah, compared to other places we’ve been.”
“Well, let’s see if we can get this thing moving!”
The two grabbed onto opposite sides of the winch wheel, and started pulling it. After a moment of strain, it shifted, and turned a bit before jamming again. The portcullis gate lifted an inch or two as a result. Continuing to pull on it, Sonic and Tails managed to shift the winch a bit more, lifting the gate up a few more inches.
“This, is really, heavy!” Said Sonic.
As Tails was about to reply, they were interrupted by a screeching sound and a crash. The chain connected to the winch broke and whiplashed at them. Sonic and Tails jumped back as the chain whipped into the winch mechanism, and the portcullis gate fell to the ground with a thunk, multiple stones falling from above it. As the two stood back up, The metal gate shifted forward towards them. Sonic and Tails watched as the gate pulled down a chunk of the metal mechanism and more rocks as it fell forward.
Sonic and Tails backed up as all of this came crashing down. The portcullis landed on the ground in front of them with a crash. As more stones fell from above the gate, the whole structure shook, threatening to collapse. Suddenly, the front doors flung open, light flowing in and a gust of wind blowing through the room. With it, Knuckles fell face forward inside with a mound of dirt that poured overtop the rubble.
“Holy cow, maybe we should’ve of done that.” Said Tails as he hung onto Sonic.
Pushing Tails off of himself, Sonic replied, “Well, it turned out fine. I think.”
Knuckles lifted himself out of the dirt, and shouted, “Guys! I did it! I just needed to push half of the wall over!”
“What did you two do? Set off a bomb?!” Chastised Amy as she walked inside.
“Sorry Amy, but there wasn’t a warning sign to tell us that opening the door would almost crush us to death.” Answered Sonic.
“Well I’m glad your okay, but we should be more careful in here.”Said Amy, “This place could fall on top of us.”
Sticks followed Amy inside cautiously and scrutinized the inside of the Ruin. With the outdoor light pouring in, the whole area was visible. The room was was mostly made up of the tall stone walls and a roof, with no decoration or adornment. In the back wall was an empty archway leading further into the dungeon-like structure.
“I might’ve been wrong about this place, it just looks like a dump.” Said Sticks.
Tails had his wrist scanner running again, and pointed it towards the back wall, “It looks like there’s just one large room back there. Or maybe the rest of this place is collapsed and buried beyond that.”
“We’ll just have one quick look and then were out of here, I don’t want to die from a cave in of all things.” Said Sonic as he walked up to the archway, lighting up the area with his glowing attire.
Everyone else agreed to this notion, and activated their own luminescent uniforms before following Sonic and Tails into the next room.
As the next room slowly illuminated, they saw an expansive hall. The air felt colder still, and the smell of metal and mildew permeated the room. Against both sides of the walls were rusted metal cages, hooked by chain to a mechanism that ran down both walls to the back of the hall. There were arches on both sides of the hall’s walls that were buried and blocked off by dirt and rubble. The center of the room had a long, wooden table that had fallen from its legs due to rot. All the way at the back of the hall, the wall rounded around a strange stone and iron Altar.
“Nevermind, this place is spooky, like some sort of cult hideout or something.” Said Sticks, staying behind the rest of the group.
“My guess is this is some sort of dungeon, otherwise this room wouldn’t be so drab.” Said Amy.
“Yeah, I don’t see anything here that’d be useful beyond torturing somebody.” Said Sonic, walking over to one of the cages and poking the metal.
“But there is something strange about this room,” Said Tails, pointing his scanner at the walls and ceiling, “Being it’s one of the only rooms not collapsed, it must be more structurally sound for some reason.”
“Oh no! Structural integrity is the most horrifying thing about Halloween!” Yelled Knuckles, shivering due to fear and the temperature.
Tails continued walking forward towards the back of the hall, and everyone else slowly followed as the conversation continued.
“But look at this big, Altar like thing!” Said Tails, “There’s clearly a mystery to be solved here.”
Now in clearer view, the altar appear to be a large rectangular stone table. The top surface however, was metal plated. There was some form of ancient text no one could read lining the perimeter. Directly above on the ceiling was a sharp looking metal rod, that when visible by the group, gave everyone pause. More ominously, on the center of the altar appeared to be a large, fanged, monster’s skull, presiding above a pool of purplish liquid.
“Ah, uhm, that looks like a torture device…” Said Tails. “Maybe this is just a messed up dungeon…”
“Yeah, aside from being a decent haunted house, I think this place is a bust.” Replied Sonic.
“Wait, what kind of skull is that?” Asked Tails, and he cautiously walked closer to get a better look, “It looks like some kind of large canine? I’m not a biologist, but maybe this is a new discovery.”
“Hey uh, Tails, you’re pretty close to that possibly-a-torture device.” Said Sonic nervously, the chilly air getting to his nerves.
Looking down at the skull, then looking back up at the sharp metal spike, Tails turned around and asked, “Sticks, can I borrow your stick?”
“Do I look like a stick pawn shop?” Replied Sticks, “Aw nevermind, just don’t say I didn’t warn you not to poke that spooky altar with a stick, because I am warning you right now.”
Grasping Sticks’ pole staff, Tails turned back to the altar and used it to poke all around the surface. When it landed in the purple liquid, it just splashed a bit. Poking the skull also did nothing. So Tails lifted the pole up to the metal spike and poked the end of it, before smacking it pretty hard.
“Okay, I think it’s fine. You can have your staff back now,” Said Tails.
Sticks looked at her pole staff for a moment, and replied, “No thanks, you can keep it.”
Tails shrugged, and put the pole down. He then reached his arms over and grabbed the top of the mysterious skull, much to the chagrin of Sonic, Amy, and Sticks. After a moment of attempting to lift the skull to no avail, Tails released it.
“Woah Tails, maybe you shouldn’t just try to take the spooky and threatening skull off of the spooky and threatening table.” Said Sonic.
“Well I didn’t detect any electricity or power here, and I don’t think this mechanism, if there is one, works anymore.” Said Tails, “But that skull is stuck there for some reason.”
“Oh, I can probably get it!” Said Knuckles, “I’ve had a great track record of strength today.”
Grasping and lifting up of the skull for a moment, Knuckles couldn’t get it too budge more than a bit. He then took a deep breath, as if he was about to put all of his strength into it.
“Wait, don’t break it!” Yelled Tails.
“Aw, I thought I had it though!” Replied Knuckles as he released his grip.
“Well maybe there something under it keeping it stuck.” Suggested Tails.
Tails reached his left arm under the the skull, and into the purple liquid, inciting a gasp from Amy, and a stressed huff from Sonic as he puffed his cheeks. The liquid was about as cold as the air, and it felt mildly syrupy. Tails felt around under the skull, touching the teeth lightly. He then lowered his hand further into the liquid, were he felt some kind of latch or handle.
Grabbing and pulling the handle caused skull to lift up suddenly, causing Tails to jump. Seeing it lifted up, Tails assumed the skull must be loosening. He fiddled around with the handle some more, before finding it willing to push forward. At this point, the handle stopped, and Tails pushed it down. This was when the Skull shifted as if it was loose for a moment, and then snapped down on Tails' arm.
“Aah!” Shouted Tails, as his arm was stuck tightly in place in the jaws of the skull.
“Are you alright?!” Asked Sonic as he appeared beside Tails.
“Yeah, I’m just kinda stuck.” Replied Tails.
Suddenly, the metal spike above the altar flashed, and flashed again with an arch of electricity. From his wrist, Tails' scanner device started beeping in alarm.
“Uh, okay, get me out of here!” Said Tails.
Sonic simply nodded and immediately tried prying the skull up, Knuckles quickly grabbing the other side and lifting as well. While trying to pull his arm out, Tails felt the skull’s teeth start piercing his flesh painfully. A second later, a flash of lighting emanating from the metal pole above arched onto the skull and altar, blinding everyone. All Tails heard in his panic were the startled screams of his friends.
In the instant of the electric flash, Sonic and Knuckles both recoiled back, eyes blinded. While they weren’t looking, the skull lifted it’s maw and Tails had fallen backwards to the floor with a light thud. Blinking for a moment, Sonic’s vision adjusted and cleared. He and the others looked down to see Tails lying on the tile floor, eyes wide and arms shaking as he gasped for air.
“Tails!” Yelled Sonic as he immediately knelt down, “Are you okay?!”
Tails’ shaky eyes meeting Sonic’s, filled with a fear that Sonic was all too familiar with. Tails mouth moved for a moment like he wanted to talk, but he was unable to stop hyperventilating.
“Is he in shock?” Asked Amy, “What did that thing do to him?”
“I’m pretty sure it electrocuted him.” Said Knuckles.
Amy glared at Knuckles, but then rescinded her contempt.
“I-I think…” Started Tails’ shaky voice.
Before continuing, Tails reached over to his left arm, now bruised and in pain. He looked back up too Sonic, who’s concerned gaze compelled Tails to finish.
“I should, have saw that coming…” Tails continued, trying to lift up to a sitting position, “That was scary.”
Sonic and Amy grabbed each of Tails’s shoulders and helped him sit up. Tails immediately looked at the altar and saw Sticks leaning over it, scrutinizing the trap. Most of the altar and surrounding area were visible with the light emanating from their uniforms. Aside from a bit of hovering smoke, it didn’t look too different.
“Yeah, that was scary.” Said Sonic, redirecting Tails’ vision, “Do you feel alright?”
“My arm is sore now, more than before.”
“You clearly need to get bandaged up.” Said Amy.
“Yeah, let’s get home buddy.” Said Sonic with a nod.
The Sonic and Amy lifted Tails to his feet. After a moment of swinging his tails to gain some balance, he was able to walk on his own.
“Now hold on,” Said Sticks, “Something is wrong with this thing.”
“Uh, yeah, obviously.” Replied Sonic.
“No! Come look!”
Sonic rolled his eyes, but Tails was quick to see what Sticks was talking about. Slowing his pace and cautiously watching the metal rod in the ceiling, Tails walked next to Sticks. Looking down on the table, Tails and the others saw that the skull itself looked unchanged, but the small pool of purple liquid under it was gone. The bowl that the liquid previously resided in looked stained with some form of caramelized substance, but that didn’t account for the rest.
“Woah, that purple soda stuff evaporated!” Said Knuckles.
“That, that doesn’t make sense.” Said Tails with a surprised expression.
“Why doesn’t it?” Asked Sonic.
“Because if it was that hot, it would’ve left that skull more charred.” Said Tails, rubbing his arm nervously, “That, and my arm would’ve burned.”
“Tails,” Said Sticks, “I really think you might’ve been cursed with something there.”
“I don’t know about that,” Said Tails, “But I would like to know what that stuff was now.”
“Well there’s probably some on Sticks’ pole staff now.” Suggested Amy.
“Oh yeah!” Said Tails.
Reaching to the floor and picking up the pole staff, Tails could see that the end he’d poked the liquid with was still damp.
“Okay, that’s fine,” Said Sonic while tapping his foot. “But we really should leave before we trip another trap.”
The group agreed, and started to quickly head toward the exit of the Ruin. Knuckles stopped behind everyone and looked back. Without the others noticing at first, Knuckles jogged back to the Altar.
“Oh Tails,” Said Knuckles, turning everyone’s head, “You forgot that skull you wanted!”
“Don’t touch that!” Yelled everyone simultaneously.
After coaxing Knuckles back outside with them, everyone noticed that the day was rapidly fading into evening. The air humidity seemed to be getting replaced with a cool breeze. The scene on the horizon made it clear that a thunderstorm was brewing as a result of the humidity. Tails verbally groaned as he realized this, his two tails drooping subtly.
“Hey buddy,” Said Sonic, “After we get you patched up, mind if I stay at your place for the night?”
Tails raised his eyebrow curiously, “Uh, why?”
“Well, y’know it looks like there’s gonna be a thunderstorm tonight. Not that I think you’re gonna be bothered by that-”
Tails huffed and furrowed his brow as he figured out Sonic was worried about him and his old fear of lighting. After another moment, Tails looked down sheepishly at the thought that Sonic was worried about him. He then looked back up and smiled at Sonic thankfully for being worried about him. With that last non verbal confirmation, Sonic smiled back.
Outside of Team Sonic’s collective view, a figure slowly appeared at the edge of the pit. It’s head slowly scanned around the exposed Ruin, before locking it’s gaze on Sonic, Tails, Amy, Knuckles, and Sticks. The figure waited, staring at all of them as they walked out of view, before slinking down into the pit itself. With a short look around the area, the figure hustled inside the Ruin.