The following text found on ancient scriptures are still undergoing precise translation. This is what has been translated by Amy Rose, the person who discovered them, thus far.
Before the time of Angel Island and Albion, in the time of the Ancients, our people proudly claimed up to 26% of the world's land, and 4% of its oceans. We, the Olmec Echidnas, became paragons of conquest through ancient magics and our pack-like nature. While the rest of the world slowly advanced around us, we stuck to our ancestral roots. Yet ever still, the rest of the world could only admit surrender or be frozen in an uncomfortable, tense stand-still.
Our only true rivals existed in the hyper advanced civilizations, the Nocturnus Echidnas and the Kistune Foxes, and the Constellan and Terran Hedgehog Clans, who became our only true rivals in magics and pure willpower. In the end, the Nocturnus Tribe disappeared completely... through means no one can truly explain. The Fox Packs and the Hedgehog Clans were non-confrontational, but were successful in their defensive efforts. They became our only true roadblock to further expansion... aside from our own greed and arrogance.
In our quest to seek knowledge and power, in the name of expanding our territories, our exploration led upon the discovery of the Ancients and their limitless sources of power. There were numerous different forms of these power sources, but only one caught the interest of our ancestors; the Master Crystalline Ore, commonly referred to as the Master Core in modern society. Among everything the Ancients had created, this powerful artifact fueled by pure chaotic energy was their most powerful asset.
The Ancients were a pacifistic people. Though their power was great, they acted only in self-defense. Unlike the Hedgehogs, however, their will and determination to fight back was weak. The leader of the time, Chieftain Pachacamac, ignored the warnings of his daughter Tikal and assaulted the hidden city of the Ancient's domain. The battle was over within the night; their land and power was ours, and last of the Ancients themselves destroyed or sealed away in stasis.
In his arrogance, Chief Pachacamac relocated his capital city to that of the Ancients' fallen realm, to maintain control of the Master Core and the abundant crystals that were created from the nigh mythical ore. Those who had relocated enjoyed only five good years of power and prosperity in that new, glorious city.
On the first day of the summer season, the reptile followers of the fallen Ancient Lyric lay siege to our great city.
The city's defenses barely managed to hold against the unexpected assault, but the attack carried on for several weeks into summer to follow. Our ancestors had thought they would be able to hold them off at the borders of the city on their own. However, on the day before the summer solstice was to occur, their enemies returned to attack the city again with the help of several canine packs and avian flocks the echidnas had barely considered to be threats.
Our people were overwhelmed on all sides. To make matters worse, the reptiles began to bore under the city past the outer walls. Once they were inside, the civilians and the warriors alike were helpless to sheer numbers. In his desperation to save his people and his city from death and ruin, the Chief turned to the Master Core to obtain the power to defeat their enemies. To the horror of his family, his people, and even himself, this decision would only lead to his destruction.
And mark the birth of the worst horror our people will ever see.
Several thousands of miles away from the coast of the United Federation's borders, out into open waters where larger continents could not even be seen across the horizon, there lay a small collection of islands; roughly six of them, some so small you could trek one side to the other in a day, some so large they required 3 days to completely explore. Smack dab in the middle of this group of islands was one of the smaller islands, a farming and fishing community whose main export was fruits and seafood; Bygone Island.
This particular spring day was not unlike a typical afternoon for seventeen year old Sonic the Hedgehog and three of his four partners; weaving through and over the dense island forest with their human nemesis and his robotic minions hot on their tails. Sonic was the main ground diversion today. Ah, there wasn't much like the sound of laser fire and narrowly avoiding the head of trees bursting into flame to get the adrenaline pumping.
“Friendly tip, Egghead: you're supposed to fire at me, not next to me!” Sonic shot back to his enemy flying along in his Egg-Mobile behind him.
“Can't you let me at least enjoy the atmosphere of the chase for five minutes, hedgehog?!” Dr. Eggman barked after the super-sonic hedgehog as his egg-mobile and firing beetle-bots weave around intact and destroyed foliage.
“I could, but what fun would the day be without our banter?! Come on, you know you love it!”
“That's beside the point!”
Sonic finally burst forth from the treeline and into the canyonous area where his support was waiting. He dove into a thinner canyon where Eggman was forced to fly above the thin crack while his beetle-bots drove in single-file to follow after Sonic, smoothly weaving around the turns along after him. Thankfully, Sonic's support was right on schedule as his ears twitched at the sounds of cracking rock, tumbling boulders, and rapid-fire gunfire. On a much higher ledge at the mouth of the thin canyon, broken rock and boulders tumbled down to attempt to block off the exit into the wider ridge as nineteen year old Knuckles the Echidna tore through the rock face with ease. Sonic managed to pick up his pace and burst through the mouth just in time for the first half of the faster beetle-bots to be crushed by the falling rock, the rest blocked off.
Sonic skid to a stop to wave a hand up to Knuckles and signal that he was fine, as well as a thanks for the cover, and Knuckles signaled back with a thumbs-up before he quickly moved to climb down to Sonic's level. They could barely hear Eggman yell and shout in irritation through the distance, gunfire and missle-fire as Eggman was being chased down by a bright yellow-and-white plane. Thirteen year old Tails the Fox (preferable to his real name) managed to duck around and over the missile-fire as he pelted his Egg-Mobile with his own gunfire, but made sure Sticks the Badger (of an ambiguous age, presumably 13 but could be anywhere in that range) could still cling on to the side of the wing without falling off.
“Don't you rodents have anything better to do than to pester and shoot at me?!” Eggman shouted back at Tails with a mild growl.
“You attacked us!” Tails snapped back in defense as his plane jerked to dodge another missile.
“And you could have just let me destroy you and made this easy on everyone! But as per usual, it has to be a giant thing now,” Eggman retorted as if scolding the child like he was the one inconvenienced by this whole thing, his own Egg-Mobile jerking back to dodge gunfire; of course Tails wasn't aiming for him, just his vehicle.
There wasn't much for Sonic and Knuckles to do on the ground anymore besides just sit back and watch the mid-air dog-fight. Sonic was able to casually lean against his larger companion, so light that Knuckles didn't even end up leaning in either direction as they both folded their arms and, with entertained and amused grins, watched the two parties go back and forth for a bit. Sonic's ear twitched when he heard his wrist communicator go off, though, and he turned to lean his back against Knuckles as he looked to the ID of the awaiting call. It was Amy. He briefly grinned and pressed his communicator to answer.
“Hey, Amy! Glad you called. Knuckles and I smoke Eggman's bots in the gully and Tails is creaming him in the skies,” Sonic reported before Amy could get a word in. “How's the excavation going?”
“Sonic, you don't pay attention to dates or time very well, so I'll say this patiently,” Amy started with a fraction of impatience in her tone. “I literally just got off the boat. I told you this morning, Sonic, that I was coming home today, and you promised to meet me at the docks to help unload everything.”
Sonic stood tall and felt Knuckles' shocked look bore through the back of his head and to the communicator, his spines standing up on end.
“You're already back? But you said you wouldn't be back until 2!”
“It's 2:10. I know these things usually have a 30 minute gap for you, Sonic, but 'sharp' is 'sharp', you know.”
Sonic briefly glanced to the time stamp on his communicator and groaned, turning to muffle the moan with Knuckles' side before exposing his mouth to the communicator.
“Yeah, yeah, okay, so we lost track of time,” he admitted with another groan, waving his free hand to it as if Amy could see it. “I'm guessing the crew's got it and it's too late for me to come help... We'll wrap up here and meet you at Meh Burger, okay? My treat. You got a crew to bring your stuff back, right?”
“Of course! Cliff's excavation crew is just so helpful,” Amy sighed happily with a bit more patience under the knowledge of Sonic paying for her meal. “We managed to bring so much stuff back. I can't wait to show you guys! It's going to blow your minds.”
“Iii'm sure it will, Amy,” Sonic chuckled with mild distraction as he locked up to watch the end of the wing to Tail's plane be torn through by a missile, though Tails managed to recover by purposefully getting his other wing hit for balance. Thankfully, Sticks was unharmed. “Okay, hang tight. We'll wrap up real quick and meet you there. Make sure you bring your extra nerdy for Tails' sake.”
“Hardy har, Sonic,” Amy sighed with an audible shake of her head as she hung up.
Sonic turned around and waved for Knuckles to give him a boost. Knuckles knelt down and cupped both his hands for Sonic to slide a foot into, allowing Knuckles to hurl him up into the air as Sonic added to the force with a kick-off of his hands. Sonic managed to slow the flight down with a spin and managed to hop onto the wing opposite of Sticks.
“Hey, guys, Amy's back!” He announced to the two of them with a nod to Eggman. “Lets hurry this up so we can catch her at Meh Burger! She says she has some stuff for us!”
“Amy's back?!” Tails jumped up in excitement, turning to Eggman was a more determined look. “One quick-win coming up!”
Tails immediately sped up to fly over Eggman and do a 360 spin when he was directly overhead. Both Sticks and Sonic released their grip on the plane and dropped down, Sticks on top of Eggman to slide down onto the controls and tear into them with her boomerang, and Sonic to bounce off of Eggman after her, drop down just beside the Egg-Mobile and hurl himself at the sides with several homing attacks. With both of their efforts, even Eggman's yelling for them to get off and swatting at Sticks did nothing to stop them from grounding the Egg-Mobile in the gully. Sticks and Sonic hopped away to land besides Knuckles, rushing over to rejoin them, as Eggman looked to the destroyed controls and glare to the four of them in agitation.
“This is my only ride home, you know,” he grumbled to them with clear guilt-trip in his tone.
“I'm sure you can manage,” Sonic smugly assured him as Sticks and Knuckles climbed into Tails' damage plane once it had landed.
And with a final smug, taunting salute and a cheeky smirk matching that of his companions' (save Sticks giving Eggman the dirty-eyes), Sonic waited for Tails to take off with Sticks and Knuckles before taking off after them through the ravens of the canyon. The group shared amused laughter as they could hear Eggman shouting after them and calling upon another squadron of robots for be his ride back to his lair.
The trip back to Meh Burger was not a short one. Tails mostly just needed to briefly park his plane back at his workshop before everyone rejoined with Sonic at Meh Burger to wait up for Amy. They ordered food ahead of time and patiently waited for Amy's return (some more patiently than others). They were excited, some more than others, to see what she'd brought back. Likely just old tablets, maybe some pottery, they figured.
And to think such a nightmare would begin with such a simple question:
“Knuckles, you’re educated on echidna culture, right?”
Of course it wasn't Amy's innocent question that set the year's events into motion, but it was a fitting precursor. Was the day anything special before that? Not really, no. The hero crew of four (with the absence of Amy), courtesy of Dr. Eggman, managed to get their weekly battle with him finished before Amy had even gotten back from her expedition trip with Cliff and his excavation crew, so Amy would have all the time in the world to nerd out. Her opening question was what caused their usual, 'peaceful' day to take such a turn (though only indirectly).
Everyone at the table briefly glanced up to Amy at her question as she approached their table, then to Knuckles in surprise. The lack of a 'hello' hardly even registered in their mild shock. Even Knuckles's eyes widened slightly as he withdrew his toasted food and put it down, shocked that someone as smart as Amy would be asking him of all people about anything astute like culture, even if it was his own.
“Sure, I am. I was surrounded by it practically my whole life,” he briefly bragged with a confident tilt of his shoulders and upwards chin. He glanced over the materials she carried over in her hands, watching her put it all down before continuing. “Why d'ya ask? You don't normally ask me about stuff like this.”
“Well, you're the only echidna present on the island,” Amy explained as she pulled up a chair to sit down, beginning to sort out the different artifacts she'd brought with her. “And echidnas are very private about their culture and history, so it's not something that's very easy to research. I couldn't find anything of use in the village library... though that probably doesn't come as much surprise to you. So, you're pretty much the only available reference for that kind of thing.”
She began to organize her things around everyone's food and lay out a thick book, some rolled up scrolls, and about two small, chipped and slightly cracked stone tablets, earning the group's immediate attention. Sonic briefly glanced over it with some intrigue, though ultimately just shrugged and took another bite of his dog, while Tails' and Knuckles' eyes widened. Tails immediately sat up to examine it with intense fascination, while Knuckles' eyes flashed with recognition.
“Hey, I recognize this!” Knuckles put his food down and stood up to look over the tablets with big eyes, almost proud that he could be of use; if one looked, they could even see a delighted wiggle in his tail. “It's an old echidna language! Where'd you find this stuff, Amy?”
“I was gone for two whole weeks with Cliff excavating the old ruins to the East, remember?” Amy reminded him with a twinge of irritation in her folded arms, though eased up when she saw Knuckles shrink back, his look apologizing for not remembering in his excitement.
“Probably not, considering Tails and me were the only people you ever called on that trip,” Sonic shot with a teasing grin that didn't so much as twitch at Amy's narrowed look to him. He simply shrugged and waved the remaining half of his dog for her to continue. “So you found some old echidna stuff.”
“Right, and I was wondering,” Amy continued with a bit of a sweeter tone as she leaned against the table and looked back to Knuckles. “If you maybe could look it over and see if you recognize their specific contents. Maybe translate a bit for me and gimme some context before I do my own deeper translations?”
The request lit a passionate and elated fire inside of Knuckles' chest and the grin that quickly stretched across his muzzle looked almost painful in its width. Immediately beaming with pride as his chest and shoulders rose with his elated smile, he very promptly picked up Sticks' seat, kicked his over closer to Amy's, and set Sticks down in his original place all while ignoring her struggling protests. Knuckles' excitement earned a chuckle from Sonic across the table.
“Watch out, Knuckles' ego is on the loose,” he called over to Amy in a lighthearted jab, only receiving a brief look from Amy telling him to stuff it.
Sonic surrendered as he finished his food entirely, leaned back with his arms folded behind his head and folded his leg over the other, watching the group with amusement. Tails stand up to look over it with the two of them, looking over one tablet while Knuckles looked over another; the larger of the two. Sticks' analyzing gaze didn't seem to know what to make of it all at first, so she opted to simply keep her distance for now and wait to see what came of it. Knuckles scanned the tablet for a moment or two before he jumped up to smile to Amy.
“Tablets usually had important rituals, or predictions,” he explained, directing Amy's attentions to the markings etched into the ancient stone. “This one talks about a ceremony surrounding the death of the High Priest, or a Chieftain; kind of a funeral, only a lot more festive. As far as I know, we still have an upgraded version of it today too. More 'flowers', less 'coating the body in griffon blood and burning it in the bones and dust of past Kings or Priests'.”
“Ew. Please tell me the smaller one isn't as gross,” Amy pleaded with him, prompting Tails to set the smaller tablet down to let Knuckles look it over.
“Oh, yeah, this one's not nearly as awesomely gross. It's an older version of the Prayer to Chaos.” Knuckles said this with such casualty, but his eyes glanced about the tablet with a glowing beam unlike anything else.
“Prayer to Chaos... That's an incantation used by Guardians to commune with their sacred relic, right?” Tails asked with a light flick of his tails in anticipation of being right.
“Yep! Can't translate for ya, though, and I gotta keep a hold of that one from ya... That's kind of a trade secret. Strictly for Guardians, or family to Guardians.” Knuckles confirmed, then informed apologetically as he scooted the tablet closer to him to take later when he left the table.
“You're all speaking French to me at this point.” Sticks, who'd been kind of left in the dust in the wake of all the talk of ancient history, finally piped up with a blank, confused and borderline concerned expression, eyes darting between the four of them with worry.
“Oh, yeah, it's not very well known for people living in modern society as is. You probably don't understand anything we're talking about, do you?” Amy realized with sheepish apology in her voice.
“I'm starting to worry you guys joined a cult behind my back.”
“Well, we didn't. Knuckles, you gotta know the legend of Tikal and Chaos like the back of your hand, right?” Tails asked, demeanor bright with excitement and anticipation of hearing an insider's take on the tale he already knew relatively well as his hands drummed on the table and his tails flicked about.
“Pfft, obviously! It's only the biggest legend of my entire species! Of course I—oh, hey, that's new...” Knuckled assured, then teased as he glanced at the back of his own hand mid-flagrant-gesture.
“Knuckles.” Amy scolded with a roll of her eyes, tone thick with 'just get on with it'.
“I'm just kidding!” Knuckles shot back with his own rolling eyes than glared over to Amy for killing his joke, though he appreciatively stood tall and cleared his throat when Amy surrender. “Anyway, basically, it goes like this: Echidnas – especially the Olmec Echidnas... that's us – were the most awesome race on the planet besides humans. We didn't need fancy technology to kick everyone's tails to the curb! We had a whole bunch of land and sea territory. Everyone else, we either took over or were just at a stalemate with. Everything was turning up Olmecs... Until one day, an army of reptiles, coyotes and crows attacked the capital city of the Olmec echidnas to take our land. We were surrounded on all corners; reptiles and coyotes digging under the outer walls, crows coming at us from above... We were totally outmatched and outnumbered. Even when reinforcements in the rival hedgehog clans and fox packs showed up to help, they just kept on coming. So, the Chief at the time, Chief Pa--...ya know, I can never pronounce his name... Pacha... We'll call him Chief Pacha. Chief Pacha decided to turn to our sacred relic, the Master Core, to get the power to beat them back! But all he did was release the entity originally guarding the Core; the Water God, Chaos. Oh, he took care of our enemies all right! He tore through them like wet toilet paper! But... see the land didn't originally belong to us, and apparently he was still super pissed at the Olmecs, so once the enemies fled, Chaos started tearing through what was left. So Tikal, the Chief's daughter, sacrificed her life energy to seal Chaos away inside the Master Core to save what was left of our people. Then everyone signed a peace treaty and agreed to leave each other alone. The end.”
By the time Knuckles was done, he'd had everyone's full, undivided attention, and he could feel his chest swelling with pride. A wide grin on his face, he theatrically bowed, narrowly avoiding slamming his head into the table upon Tails and Knuckles feverishly reaching to stop his head from colliding with it.
“The story's new, but it's startin' to ring a few bells, I guess... either that, or the silkworms are back in my head again.” Sticks murmured to herself before she started feeling her ears and head to be safe, earning eye-rolls.
“So, what happened to the city? And the Core?” Tails asked Knuckles with a more attentive gaze up to him now.
“Not really allowed to say. Blood oath.”
“Ah. The most binding kind.” Sticks murmured under her breath with a shift of her head onto her hand, supported by her elbow, though she kept her eyes on the others.
“Yeah, you'll have to translate that on your own... I can look over the scrolls for ya! The book's a whole other endure of it's own.” Knuckles explained as he excitedly started to unfurl and flatten one of the scrolls
“Erm, Knuckles, do you mean 'endeavor'?” Tails asked him with a wry, patient smile.
“Yeah, that too--”
Knuckles' hands immediately withdrew on reflex, taking in swift gasp of air as the scroll rolled back up against with a loud swish of its paper. For about ten seconds, Knuckles just stared at the waterlogged scroll with shock and alarm. Only the briefest flicker of genuine distress presented itself before Sonic sat up.
“Knux? You okay there, buddy?”
“Huh? Yeah, yeah, I'm cool. I'm good. Why?”
“You kinda pulled back like the scroll was gonna bite you when you opened it," Tails pointed out with a furrowed brow, then a perched eyebrow when Knuckles had glanced over to him in alarm.
Amy opted to flatten it out this time, using the two tablets to keep the paper pinned to the table and opened. The echidna dialect was outstretched across the entire length of the paper, written around a few elegantly painted pictures; the most noticeable, and understandable to decipher, being a blotch of blood red color with a brighter red circle in the middle, save for a painted white crescent shape at the edge. Amy, Tails and Sticks leaned in a bit closer to try to examine the entirety of the scroll, though only Amy focused on the drawings.
“Hm... I've seen other designs like this before. It's either a ritual or a prophecy of some kind... Can you translate?” Amy inquired with a curious glance up to Knuckles, whose eyes shifted around, nervous and unfocused.
“Nope. Sorry. 'nother private thing... blood oaths and all... In fact...”
Without warning, Knuckles reached across the table and rapidly started collecting everything as he rounded the table to move around it. He only let behind the bigger book in his haste.
“What are you doing?” Amy demanded as she reached for one of the tablets, only for Knuckles' jerk away to deny her of it.
“Taking them. They belong to my ancestors, so they're practically my property.” Knuckles promptly turned around to start moving away, but Amy stood up and reached a hand to him to signal for him to wait.
“Knuckles, aren't you going to at least gimme a chance to translate it myself?”
“Eh, you wouldn't be interested! It's... pretty boring... I'll just go ahead and take these off your hands, head home, throw 'em in the attic and ya know, hey, just for the heck of it, maybe pretend we never found them in the first place!” Knuckles very quickly called back as he was dismissing himself from the situation with more of a dash away from Meh Burger now.
“Knuckles!” Amy took a few more steps forward as she shouted after him, but Knuckles didn't heed her calls.“H-Hey, come back! We weren't done!”
“Sorry, Amy, I can't hear you over the sound of... my... not... listening to you!” A lame call-back by Knuckles, sure, but one way or another, he was gone.
Amy sighed in dejected disappointment as she turned around to sit back down, folding her arms tightly across her chest and glaring down to the table.
“Well, at least we know he hasn't been replaced by an alien,” she grumpily murmured.
“Yet.” Sticks hardly earned a look for her very quick, snide comment.
“I wonder what's got him so spooked...” Tails hummed curiously to himself with a glance over his shoulder to where Knuckles went off to, and looking over to Sonic upon detecting the older hedgehog shrug.
“Probably just saw a scary story and thought it was real,” Sonic figured with a dismissive shrug, only to earn a look of disapproval from Tails.
“Well, who's the say it's not? Knuckles is the only one here with extensive knowledge on his people's culture and history... well, more than us, anyway. Echidnas are extremely hush-hush about that... it can't be for no reason.”
“I guess I'm on my own with this old book...” Amy sighed as she reached over and gathered the book into her hands, examining the ancient craftsmanship of it. “I have a pretty basic understanding of old echidna writing, and there's the Modern Albian to Common dictionary I got a while back, but it's going to take a while for me to translate on my own... I just hope Knuckles snaps out of it soon.”
Was it rude to suddenly snatch everything Amy had retrieved from a two week long expedition and had worked incredibly hard for? Probably yeah. Admittedly, once again, Knuckles had reacted on impulse. But he couldn't afford to stay at Meh Burger any longer, or for that scroll to be eventually translated by Amy. He just... he just couldn't. Even holding the scroll with the other items in his hands felt gross. The paper felt slimy and disgusting in his hands.
His home was a fair distance away from the village, off by the edge of the forest by a far northwestern seaside cliff, and no one knew where he lived, so he was certain he and the items would be safe there. Halfway back through the forest, though, he found himself glancing down to the paper one too many times. His gut churning, he finally found a good rock to sit down on and did so. He laid all the items down on the ground to rest them as he unfurled the delicate, fragile scroll again. He knew what it said; even if he couldn't read English, and didn't speak this form of his Mother tongue, he was still versed enough to understand the ancient dialect. And it made him want to vomit. Maybe it was better off destroyed...? He really did just wanted to forget about it.
He flinched slightly when he finally noticed a change in the air's humidity from the morning and afternoon. He sniffed the air and could finally pinpoint the change; a storm was about to roll over the island. Probably approaching from the west, and not too far off, if he was correct. After standing up and waiting a minute or two, he could hear the subtle thunder rolling across the sky very dully in the far distance. Oh, he had to be getting back quick if he was gonna beat the rain. He picked up the materials and turned to head off further through the forest--
The snapping of a heavy branch close by caught Knuckles' attention and shifted his sixth sense into high gear. He turned and looked around to find the potential source. If it were an animal, the noises would continue, but the noises silenced. It was a person, likely aware he'd detected the noise and trying to now not be noticed. Refusing to press further, Knuckles simply put his things down and cracked his knuckles.
“Alright, Sonic, I know you're trying to punk me,” he called out into the wilderness with a smug smirk and a roll of his eyes. “Quit clowning around.”
No response. He chuckled and rolled his eyes, reaching for his communicator to buzz for Sonic. If it was Sonic nearby, he'd hear the alarm of his call go off. And it would have been one thing if Sonic just immediately turned it off and didn't answer; maybe that'd be why he didn't hear anything.
His smile fell when he heard no alarm in the middle of the forest and Sonic still answered.
“Hey, Knux.” Knuckles blood hadn't run cold like that in a long time, and he never thought it'd happen when he heard Sonic casually answer. “You finally calm down? Cause Amy would appreciate getting her stuff back. I know it's technically your people's, but the people it belonged to are dead, and Amy found it first. It's kind of the property of archeology now.”
Knuckles couldn't find his voice as he looked around. He normally wasn't this paranoid, but the scroll was bringing up painful memories he never wanted to return to him again. Memories of who could possibly be out here. He occasionally held his breath as he listened for more movement.
“Knuckles?” He heard Sonic call for him when he got no answer. “You there, buddy?”
Knuckles, again, couldn't respond as his focus was centered only on listening. Something made the air feel stiff and tense, and it was a sensation he recognized. As he stepped away to start cutting to a more open area of the forest, he could finally recognize the sensation of being followed and the sensation of the energies that were following him.
These were enemies.
“Uh... No?” Sonic's brow furrowed and he glanced between an equally confused Amy, Sticks and Tails before looking back down to his communicator. “Knuckles isn't here, actually. Can I leave a message?”
“Knuckles, you called me,” Sonic reminded him as he slowly stood up. He could detect the mild sense of distress and worry in his voice. “What's going on? You okay?”
“Huh? Oh, yeah, yeah! I'm totally...” Knuckles trailed off for a second. “...totally... fine. It's just a creepy forest, and it's just about to rain. No big deal. Everything's perfectly--”
What sounded like a tree almost instantly snapping and slamming down close by Knuckles, and Knuckles subsequent cry of surprise, cut him off. Concern shot through their stomachs in an almost simultaneous jolt as Amy, Sticks and Tails were immediately at their feet with Sonic, leaning to listen in.
“Knuckles? You still there? What happened?” Sonic demanded of him with a more fervent tone.
“O-Oh god...” The amount of fear in Knuckles' tone when he didn't answer Sonic was bone chilling. No one had heard that level of genuine terror in his voice. Ever. “Ho-How did you—How did you find me?! I came here to get away from you! Get back—!”
They could hear what sounded Knuckles' communicator being smashed by something, followed by incomprehensible static. Without another second to spare, everyone bolted away from their table, away from Meh Burger, and out of the village. Tails relied on his namesakes to keep up with the others as he used his own communicator to trace the last signal before Knuckles' was destroyed.
“I got his last signal broadcast!” He reported to the others. “He's in the western forest, ten miles northwest of here!”
No other words were exchanged as Tails took the lead. The four of them bolted out of the village and through the western forest like lightning. No amount of foliage or fauna could stop their blazing rush through to Knuckles last seen location. With their speed, ten miles was hardly anything, and in only a few short minutes, they could overhear conflict. The sounds of trees falling, roots tearing from the earth and snapping, and Knuckles' distressed shouting. As Tails was about to lead them around another corner of trees, a bright red blur slammed against a taller, sturdier tree and fell to the ground. They all halted, and Sonic zipped over first to stand in front of him defensively from whatever seemed to be attacking him. Tails was second, with Amy and Sticks to follow.
Amy began helping Knuckles off of the ground and could feel a small tremble running up the arm she grabbed. Tails felt the same as his tails brought him off the ground and pulled Knuckles' other arm up. Sticks kept to looking through the foliage at Sonic's side for the attacker, while Sonic briefly glanced over his shoulder to check on his friend.
“Knuckles, are you okay?” Amy gently pleaded as they helped him up to his feet at long last, but when he didn't answer and just stared off into the trees with terror, she glanced back up to follow his gaze.
It wasn't one figure that broke through the trees to make Tails land with his Enter-Beam at the ready and Amy draw her hammer defensively; it was three. Though they seemed nigh identical; feirce eyes were the only things they could see as dark green-and-brown, hooded cloaks and similarly colored jumpsuits, boots and gloves covered the rest of them. They seemed to be somewhat closer to Knuckles' physique, with sturdy, assault-ready stances, and the third who broke through the trees seemed powerful enough to push the tree like a flimsy chair, tearing the roots from the ground with just a measly shove. Though the push itself didn't seem very forceful.
“Okay, this is new,” Sonic grumbled under his breath before stepping forward bravely with fierce protection in his stance and tone. “Hey, whoever you are, beat it! The friend circle is a no-mess-with zone!”
“Así que has encontrado más personas para arrastrar hacia abajo con usted, príncipe? Esto es sólo una vergüenza.” The taller one in the middle, with a voice that was strangely far too soft-spoken for such a threatening appearance, seemed to toss over to Knuckles without any amount of regard for Sonic's comment.
“¡Ya te dije! Vine aquí para alejarse de lo que la gente! Salí de Albion! Por qué no puedes dejarme en paz ya?!” Knuckles distressed shout back in a language and accent fluent and identical to the one the other man used earned surprised looks from the others. Of course it was obvious Knuckles knew them, but... to share the same language?
Were these other echidnas?
And more importantly... since when was Knuckles bilingual?
Their confused glances to one another redirected to the threatening man upon his low chuckle and the shake of his head, though of course, they remained feircely protective and on the defensive as his movement earned their focus again.
“No es algo que realmente puede ayudar, lo sé. Sé que es en causas ajenas a su propia cuenta. Pero en realidad, esto es lo mejor. Para todo el mundo, incluido usted mismo. Así que ¿por qué no acaba de hacer esto sin dolor para todos los involucrados y se da vuelta sobre ya?”
“Ya has arruinado esto para mi familia, ahora que tenía que arruinar esto para mis amigos?!" The tone Knuckles used wasn’t the least bit muddled by his fluent, perfect accent and diction, or vice versa. His mixture of shame, anguish, and pure ‘pissed-off-mode’ was very evident. "Usted y el Sihil clan no puede dejarme tener algo bueno para mí , ¿verdad?! Sólo ... sólo la mierda ya!”
Without warning, Knuckles seemed to hop up, kick off of the tree behind him and with a large front flip midair to gain momentum and power, he landed on the ground with a ferocious strength, his fists and feet slamming down causing a massive shockwave. The shockwave seemed to tear through the earth and slightly split it as the three enemies were forced back into rocks and trees from the force of it. He stood up and lurched back to rejoin his friends. Only one of the enemies fully recovered, the other two thrown into threes or bushes and thrown to the ground. The tallest one, knelt to try to recover from the blow, looked up to Knuckles with a brief flash of a look of bile and hatred, causing Knuckles to pull back behind them and for Sonic, Amy, Tails and Sticks to step in front of Knuckles with warning, protective, fierce expressions. He chuckled softly and waited for his partners to stand and ready themselves before standing himself.
“Esperemos que sus aliados son los expertos, ya que creen que son. Si lo que realmente son aliados y amigos, en lugar de sólo un escudo.”
He snapped his fingers and on his command, he and the other two promptly charged at the five, ready to attack. They had made the unfortunate mistake of catching Sonic in his usual 'Not Today!' mood, and he sprung into action with a circular spindash to cut off their charge. They halted and looked to one another in shock and surprise, too slow to react as Sonic doubled-back and rammed into the three of them in a zigzag fashion before returning to his friends. He held up his fists as Amy, Sticks and Tails were by his side with their weapons at the ready, stances ready to attack and defend. As the taller one sat up from his spot on the ground, the hood to his cloak fell off to reveal a light lavender echidna around twenty-four years old was hiding under the cloak. He threw his hood back on when he heard surprised and shocked gasps from Tails and Amy, and he pushed himself up as his other allies came to stand, glaring to him.
“Usted no ha dicho el Príncipe estaba colgando alrededor de un Constellan erizo!” One of the younger ones, around eighteen maybe, yelled to the taller one in irritation.
“Yo no lo esperaba...” The taller one murmured in shock before glancing between the five heroes, then to his comrades, stepping back into the woods uneasily. “Huir, hermanos. El Senor necesita conocer a esta.”
“Hey!” Sonic saw the tallest dash off into the forest, but couldn't dash over in time before the two remaining ones pulled more trees and brush form their roots and blocked the way to give them room to flee. “Hey, get back here, you creeps! I'm not finished with you!”
“Sonic, just let them go,” Tails insisted with a frustrated shake of his head. “We can track them down later, but for now, we need to know what we're up against. Knuckles, who exactly was--”
Tails gasped when he turned around and found Knuckles had disappeared entirely, leaving behind the items he stole from Amy in his wake, save for one scroll. His gasp grabbed Sonic and the girls' attention, and they immediately began to look around to find a sign of where Knuckles had run off to. Sticks got down on the ground to sniff around, while Sonic began to zip about in areas nearby and Amy searched around the more immediately area. They searched about the immediate forest, calling after Knuckles in case he was attacked again, until Sticks froze where she saw and sniffed a particular spot in the path. She straightened onto her toes and hands.
“GUYS!” She hollered, waiting for the others to rejoin with her before nodding in the direction she was facing. “He went that way.”
“Okay, I'll run ahead and catch up to him, and try to figure out what that was all about,” Sonic decided, earning understanding and obedient nods from those he gave his following orders to. “Sticks, you try to trail down our 'new pals' and let us know if you find anything. Tails, Amy, you two should probably take the stuff back to the workshop and do some digging, see what you can figure out.”
“He took the scroll before he left,” Tails sighed as he knelt down to the ground to collect the abandoned items, passing them up to Amy.
“Don't worry, I'll get it from him when I find him,” Sonic reassured Tails with a pat of his head, watching Sticks take off into the woods to do her reconnaissance before he turned and took off into the forest.
There was gonna be no beating the rain for either of them, though.