"Everything is wrong." The chorus of voices echo off into the empty void. "Along the current course of events, the Controller will perish before the conclusion of the year. His successor will fail. The cycle will end. The world will be permanently consumed in Darkness."
The voices answer to themselves, "We must determine the cause of this change. We will summon the Lord of Time."
Just as the voices say, a figure begins to materialize in the void. It is tall and humanoid, and appears to be made of wood. One of its shoulders resembles the sun, and the other, the moon. It has a sundial on its head and markings resembling a clock face on its front. It is Chronos, the guardian of the Temporal Sapphires. "Why have you called me here, wise ones?"
"There has been…an aberration in the timeline. The natural course of events have been significantly altered. How has this occurred under your oversight?"
"Ah, yes, this timeline. I have been keeping a special eye on this one. Certainly an unexpected turn of events which has occurred."
"Is it not your task to prevent such turns?"
"No. It is not my typical place to prevent natural occurrences of time-travel."
"If this change was natural, why did we not foresee it?"
"Your powers of foresight are limited, wise ones. You see only the results of actions partaken by individuals who are not inert in the natural Flow of Chaos."
"You mean to say that time-travel occurred without the power of Chaos?"
"No. I mean to say that there is a Chaos-wielding individual who is not accounted for in the natural Flow. A sort of…Outlier."
"An Outlier? That is impossible. The slightest imbalance in such an individual would ruin the Balance of the entire universe."
"Not if there is no imbalance." There is a pause. "Clearly, this aberration is of great concern to you. If you'd like, I can erase your entire timeline. No more aberration. That's all I can do."
The voices don't take kindly to the joke. "That won't be necessary. Thank you for your assistance, Chronos."
"It was my pleasure, wise ones. But I must be returning to work now." He fades away in the same manner as he appeared.
"The death of the Controller cannot be allowed. The Lord of Time could not help."
They again answer to themselves, "That leaves only one option. We must intervene."
"Our last such intervention brought centuries of Darkness unto the world."
"We must take precautions. But we must intervene."
A single voice repeats, "I must intervene."
Sonic the Hedgehog: The Chaos Project
Season 0, Episode 20
Dawn of Chaos, Part 1: Earth and Sky
Written by ChaosProjectAuthor
June 23rd, 0 B.E.
Starry Hill Zone
The brilliant summer starlight illuminates the sloping, grassy hills. The bright lights of city skyscrapers can be seen not too far in the distance, though not close enough to outshine the stars. A shooting star streaks through the sky. A single cloud slowly blows into view. Then a familiar plane tears through it.
Sonic shouts from the wing of the Tornado, "So what'd you get me up so early for, anyway?"
Tails answers from the pilot's seat, "Sorry, but it couldn't wait 'till morning this time. Central City is in serious danger! There's a meteorite heading right for it!"
"I thought you said these meteor showers were harmless!"
"That's just the thing. Meteors burn up in the atmosphere. But initial scans have shown that this meteorite is made of some very rare materials, and it's going to hit the surface."
"So we're gonna blast it?"
"Not exactly. If we break it into pieces, the damage will just spread out. We need to throw it off course, make it hit the hills instead. That's where you come in."
"You want me to smash it?"
"It's not an elegant plan, but yeah. Just give it a good whack!"
The two continue to fly through the warm summer air. Soon, an extra light appears in the sky above them, growing rapidly. "Here it comes! Get ready!" The light takes the clear shape of a falling rock. "Now!"
Sonic leaps off of the wing of the plane, and curls into a spin attack. He strikes the rock just as it crosses their path, splitting it in two. The two pieces tumble off in the direction Sonic struck, safely away from the city. But as one of the pieces falls, in turns to reveal a colorful glow emitted from a hard-cut gem at its core. Sonic lands back on the Tornado, shouting, "That was a Chaos Emerald!"
"An Emerald? Why would–"
"I'm going after it!" He dives off of the plane.
"Hey, wait!" Tails sighs in exasperation.
Sonic lands in a crouch on the solid ground below, and takes off in the direction of the meteorite. Tails' voice calls through the communicator in his ear, "Sonic, I know you're excited, but you can't just jump off the plane like that!"
"Since when are you the one worried about my safety?"
"Since you told me not let you recklessly put yourself in danger anymore, remember?"
"I'm not convinced that was really an Emerald. Don't get too close until I catch up, alright?"
Sonic hops over the lip of a moderately-sized crater. At the center of the crater lies the half-meteorite, its gem still half-exposed. It certainly might be mistaken for a Chaos Emerald at first glance, being the same shape and size. However, it glows not one color, but a rainbow of seven colors all at once. The sight of it fills Sonic's eyes with wonder. He starts to walk closer to it, stuck in a trance-like state. Even before he's gotten to it, he reaches his hand out for it.
"Sonic, hold on!" Sonic looks over to Tails, startled at the sudden sound. "Don't touch it, we still don't know what it is!"
"I…I don't know what came over me. I think it's…calling to me."
Tails doesn't seem to hear him, as he's already examining the gem up close, though still careful to keep some slight distance at all times. "See? It's definitely not a Chaos Emerald."
"Do you think it's…some kind of fake?"
"I know a thing or two about fake Emeralds…and I don't think that's it. This one's too bright, brighter than a normal Emerald, even."
"It wants me to pick it up."
"What?" Still only paying half attention, Tails pulls out his Handheld tablet device, and uses it to start scanning the gem.
"I can feel it. It wants me to take it."
"Don't be ridiculous, Sonic. I know that the Chaos Emeralds can seem strange sometimes, but they're still inanimate objects, and so is this. It can't 'want' anything."
"Yeah…you're probably right."
"Huh…this is definitely Chaos energy it's putting out…but it's in some sort of odd pattern, readings are all over the place. I'll set the Handheld to record it and look for any patterns. As for the material…I can't get any reading at all."
"What's that supposed mean?"
"Nothing out of the ordinary, the Chaos Emeralds are the same way. I have some special instruments back at my lab I can use to look for more detail. Until then…" He pulls out a cylindrical glass container and a pair of metal tongs. "…let's make sure nothing happens to it." He grasps the gem with the tongs and, with slight effort, pulls it out of the rock. He carefully places it into the container, and seals it shut.
Sonic seems to relax a bit. "So, we can't just keep calling it 'it', can we?"
Tails thinks on that for a moment. "Well…a mysterious multicolored gemstone that fell from the night sky…sound like a Moonstone to me."
"The Chaos Moonstone, huh? I like it."
"Alright then. Let's get this Moonstone back to the Mystic Ruins. I didn't land the Tornado far from here, come on." The two start making their way back to the plane, leaving the rest of the meteorite behind.
The rock they left behind starts to vibrate slightly. Then, a few drops of some sort of shining golden liquid seep into the hole left by the removed gem. The hole is quickly filled, then overflowed, as the viscous fluid almost seems to crawl away from the meteorite, towards the outside of the crater. As the Tornado passes by the edge of the crater, preparing to take off, the pile of liquified light somehow leaps from the ground, latching onto the retracting wheel of the plane.
Tails inserts the case containing the Moonstone into a large machine clearly meant to hold it. The whole machine lights up as it begins to scan the gem. "There we go." He takes a step back to stand next to Sonic, and watch the machine do its work.
Behind them, the strange golden liquid inches its way along the back wall.
As the machine does its work and the liquid crawls along, Sonic tries to make conversation. "Tails…have you ever heard the of word, 'animoid'?"
Tails thinks for a moment. "Once or twice, yeah. It's a pretty archaic word. It refers to…people like us, I guess." The liquid light passes under a table.
"But that's just the thing. We aren't 'people'."
"Well, sure we are. We don't have to be human to be people. I suppose the technical term would be–"
"Anthropomorphic superhuman animal, yeah. It's a mouthful." Underneath the table lies the yellow Chaos Emerald, concealed from view.
"I guess that's the kind of confusion the word was made to avoid."
"Maybe it's…time for a revival?" The liquid leaps onto the Emerald, wrapping itself all the way around it. The force of the jump knocks the Emerald partially out of its hiding place, causing a slight clatter.
The sound causes Sonic to turn his head. He notices a faint yellow glow coming from just under the table, and walks over to investigate. "Tails, look!" He holds up the Emerald. The liquified light is nowhere to be seen.
"Oh, no! You weren't supposed to see that!" He runs over to Sonic, clutching his head. "Well, there goes the surprise, I guess. Happy Birthday, Sonic."
"You got me a Chaos Emerald for my Birthday?"
"Well, yeah, I thought…you know…with the…thing going on, and…you being…" He trails off. "It was a stupid idea, wasn't it?"
"No, not at all! You got me one of the seven rarest and most valuable objects on the planet, and I get to use it to save the world! What better gift could there be? Thank you."
Tails smiles. "I have a cake in the basement, too. I considered throwing you a big party, but I figured you would appreciate something a little more laid-back. Besides, it would be hard to top that one party a couple years ago."
"Don't you remember? I invited everyone."
"Oh, yeah…" He doesn't seem to think about that too much, distracted by the object he holds. "Something feels…different, about this Emerald."
Tails answers almost defensively, "It's not a fake, I promise."
"No, it's not that, it's just…I can't explain it."
"Your brain's probably still a little messed up from the effects of the Moonstone. Maybe you should sit down for a while."
"No, no, I'm fine. It's probably nothing." He looks back to the Moonstone. "So how's that coming along?"
Tails walks up to the scanning machine's display screen, and starts examining the data. "Scanning is…40% complete. By looks of it, it definitely has the same lattice structure as a Chaos Emerald…but I still can't be sure about the material. There's definitely some kind of pattern here with the energy it's exuding. I count…four specific different wavelengths. And its switching between them at very specific intervals, always a multiple of…" He looks up to Sonic. "…7 milliseconds exactly."
"What do you think it means? Some kind of code?"
"I can't say anything for sure. I can start analyzing the pattern immediately, but it'll take at least a few hours."
"A few hours…"
"What's the matter? Have somewhere to be?"
"Actually, I've been meaning to meaning to pay Knuckles a visit over on Angel Island."
"Well why didn't you just say so? I could've taken you over there any time. We can go right now."
"Don't worry about it." He waves the Emerald around a bit. "I need the practice."
"Alright, you go ahead. I'll contact you if I make a breakthrough here."
Sonic smiles and nods. "I'll be back." He holds up the Emerald somewhat overdramatically. "Chaos Control!" He disappears in an unusually bright flash of light.
The sun has risen considerably over the shrine of the Master Emerald. Already, the air seems to be growing hotter. Sonic suddenly appears, landing in a crouch.
"Well, looks someone's finally figuring out how to make an entrance!"
Sonic looks up to see Knuckles the Echidna standing at the top of the stairs. Sonic chuckles. "You haven't made a good entrance since the day we met. Unless you count that time you popped your head out of the sewer."
Knuckles starts making his way down the steps. "Hey, you weren't even there to see that one."
"Well, if you want to leave yourself with only the one point…"
"Point? So, it's a competition now?" He makes it down the last few steps. "Besides, I made at least three good entrances the day we met. And I think I deserve double points for taking out Super Sonic." They both share a good laugh. "It's good to see you again, Sonic."
"I guess it has been a little while, hasn't it?"
"So what brings you here? I hope you weren't expecting a Birthday present."
"No, it's not that. You see…a lot's changed since we last talked."
"I can tell. You're a lot more confident. Confident enough to use Chaos Control to get all the way here."
"Yeah, but there's more to it than that. Knuckles…what do you know about 'the Controller'?"
Knuckles closes his eyes to think. "The Controller serves to unify the Chaos."
"The chant of the Master Emerald?" Knuckles nods. "So what does that mean to you?"
Knuckles thinks for another moment. "Come with me. There's something you should see." He waves Sonic along, and starts to walk around the side of the shrine. As they walk, Knuckles points out, "What's with that scar?"
Sonic looks to his arm at the relatively small mark Knuckles refers to. "Oh, this? Shadow and I had a bit of a run-in."
"Not exactly. I sort of…took a bullet for him."
"I don't know why you trust that guy so much."
"I trust him because he's my friend. You should at least understand that much."
"Yeah, whatever." The two have arrived at the back, where an archway in the shrine is revealed, containing a staircase leading deep underground. Knuckles continues down, and Sonic follows, showing relief at getting out of the direct sunlight. As he passes into the shade, the yellow Emerald in his hand shudders slightly.
"Welcome back…to the Hidden Palace." Knuckles presents the ornate underground structure floored with green tiles and supported by dark blue columns.
"Back…yeah, I remember this place." Sonic pounds a fist into an open hand. "This is where I finally gave you that beating you deserved."
"That was an even match the way I remember it." He walks up to what appears to be the center of the structure, a shrine with one decorated pedestal large enough to fit the full-sized Master Emerald, surrounded by seven more only slightly smaller.
Sonic continues to reminisce. "This is where you were keeping the Master Emerald before Eggman took it." Knuckles nods. "But…what are all the other stands for?"
"They're for the Chaos Emeralds."
"The Chaos Emeralds? You're kidding, right?" Sonic walks up to one of the pedestals to demonstrate. He gives it a good look over, then simply holds his yellow Emerald up slightly above it. The size difference is quite profound. "See? These things could each fit their own Master Emerald, this thing might get lost if I drop it in there."
"You don't see me chuckling. This is no joke. The ancient people didn't make them that size for nothing."
"Is there a point you're trying to prove here?"
"Yeah. The ancient people knew far better than we do. What was fact for them has been lost and twisted over the ages. Like what happened with the legend of the Controller."
"So there's a legend?"
Knuckles nods, and starts moving again. He leads Sonic to an ancient-looking, somewhat abstract mural. It depicts a hedgehog covered in a golden light, facing off against the head and torso of a giant man with a large nose and mustache, holding the Master Emerald. Knuckles doesn't have to say anything.
Sonic wordlessly points to the hedgehog on the mural, then over the man, then back to the hedgehog. "Uh…that's me."
"Makes a lot more sense in hindsight, doesn't it? The Master Emerald showed the ancient people many visions of potential calamities to come. All of them were drawn on murals, many of which lie in this very palace."
"What do the markings on the top and bottom mean?"
"They're written in the ancient language of the Echidnas. Roughly translated, it says… 'In the face of calamity, the Controller will be blessed by the sacred light.'" Sonic nods. "Traditional interpretation holds…that the Master Emerald itself is the Controller."
"Well that doesn't make any sense. You said it yourself, the Controller unifies the Chaos Emeralds. The Master Emerald doesn't bring the other Emeralds together, it only nullifies their power."
"Exactly. Which is why I disagree with the traditional interpretation. I've always believed that the Controller…is a person."
Sonic lets out a sarcastic, "Oh, really?"
"Sonic, this going to sound crazy, but I think that you are the Controller." Sonic can no longer contain his laughter. "Hey, what's so funny?"
"You're slow as ever, Knuckles. I figured out that much six months ago!"
"Well if you already knew that, what'd you come here for!?"
Sonic thinks about that for a moment. "I guess…ever since I learned about who I really am, I've been feeling…lost. Like I should know exactly what I'm doing, except that I don't. I asked Shadow for help, but he's…well, he's Shadow. I guess I came here hoping for some wisdom from the ancient people. Something to let me know that I'm on the right track."
Knuckles nods. "If there's one thing this place has plenty of, it's wisdom. Let me show you some of the other murals." He starts to lead Sonic off. "There's one about a dragon destined to destroy the world that might interest you." As they start to walk off, a drop of light leaps from the Emerald in Sonic's hand to the mural they had been examining. Neither of the two notice. The light spreads out and dissolves into the depiction of Eggman's robot. Then the robot's hand reaches out of the mural.
Knuckles leads Sonic up the last few steps of the outside shrine. The morning has progressed close to noon, and the sun is brighter than ever. "So, did you find what you were looking for?"
Sonic sighs. "I don't know, maybe? I feel like I'm leaving with more questions than I started with."
"Well, a bunch of ancient prophecy mumbo jumbo will do that to you. If you wouldn't mind some advice…don't worry about it."
"Don't worry about it? I learn that I'm supposed to be some sort of chosen one, and you expect me to just ignore it?"
"Not exactly." He points to the Master Emerald they've arrived at. "Believe it or not, I know what it's like to have a destiny with no one there to show the way. On some days it can really tear you up, not knowing if you're doing your job right or not. So trust me, the best thing for it is to do whatever feels right to you. If you really are the chosen one, then the right thing to do has to be whatever it is that you do."
Sonic thinks on that for a while. "I…I guess you're right. Thanks, Knuckles. I knew I could count on you."
"I know you like to put everything on your shoulders these days, but don't be afraid to call if you ever need me. I've been itching for some real action."
"I don't do the solo act anymore. That was the old me. I haven't been making friends so I could ignore them when I need them most. I'll be sure to–"
"Look out!" Knuckles shoves Sonic aside and delivers a powerful punch to the sudden assailant, a creature that can only be described as a mural come to life. It bears a clear resemblance to Eggman's Master Emerald-stealing mech as seen in the Hidden Palace mural, cartoonish proportions and all. However, it is made of a golden, glowing material, almost like solidified light. It explodes into liquid from the force of Knuckles' punch.
"What the heck was that!?"
"I don't know, but it brought friends!" Just as Knuckles says, similar cartoonish light creatures crawl onto the top platform of the shrine from all sides. Most of them are of unfamiliar shape, though one type of creature appears vaguely similar to a shrunken Perfect Chaos.
Sonic and Knuckles stand back to back as the creatures draw in. "Get ready!" They take fighting stances.
"Bet I can take out more than you can."
"Oh, it's on!" Sonic dashes in for his first strike at one of the creatures, then zips in a flash to the next before the first is finished exploding.
More of them seem to be targeting Knuckles, swarming at him from all sides. Each one is easily dealt with with a single punch, and Knuckles skillfully takes out many with few wasted movements.
As Sonic fights, Emerald in hand, a large amount of the liquid light drops away from the gem and onto the floor, escaping Sonic's notice. It begins to crawl towards the Master Emerald at the center of the shrine.
Knuckles takes out the last of his assailants, and turns to see the golden fluid inching closer to his Emerald. "Oh no you don't!" He readies another punch as he leaps towards the Emerald.
Sonic sees in time to groan, "Not again!"
Knuckles slams down onto the golden slime, causing it to explode just like the solid creatures. He raises a fist triumphantly. "That makes twenty-one."
Sonic snaps a finger in defeat. "Drats! I only got twenty. You know that means I'll be wanting a rematch. That was a pretty nice last shot there."
"Were you expecting something else?"
"For a minute there it looked like you were going to shatter the Emerald again."
"Shatter it? What, do you think I do that just for fun?"
"Actually…" Knuckles glares at Sonic. "Emergencies only. Got it. But it looks like someone's after it now. How're you gonna keep it safe?"
"There's no safer place than right here, where I can keep an eye on it. I'm counting on you to figure out who's doing this, and put a stop to them. You can handle that, right, O mighty Controller?"
"Count on it, O mighty Guardian. I don't know who's doing this, but I know where to start looking."
"I guess you should get going, then. But first…" Knuckles pulls out the blue Chaos Emerald. "I imagine you'll probably be needing this. Think of it as a Birthday present."
Sonic takes it happily. "Popular gift this year. I won't let it go to waste."
Sonic nods in farewell. "Chaos Control!"
Sonic reappears back in the center of Tails' workshop. "I'm back."
Tails looks up from the screen of the scanning machine. "Sonic! How'd your visit with Knuckles go?"
"That's what I wanted to ask you about. Have there been any unusual readings from the Moonstone over the past hour or so? Like a spike in energy, or…something?"
Tails looks back to the console. "No, I don't think so. It's been repeating this same precise pattern all morning. Why do you ask?"
"Knuckles and I were attacked by a bunch of walking cartoons. Never seen anything like it, so I thought it might have something to do with this."
Tails shakes his head. "If the Moonstone had anything to do with it, there was certainly no indication of it here."
Sonic nods. "Any progress on translating that pattern?"
"Take a look for yourself." Tails moves aside and indicates for Sonic to look at the console. "I've labeled each wavelength with a letter, A, B, C, and D, and they're listed out here, in order." Sonic takes a look. The code, continuously growing larger, seems entirely random, besides the occasional appearance of long chains of 'A's.
"Doesn't look familiar to me."
"It can't be binary or morse, because those work in twos, not fours. I've compared it to every written and spoken language on record, but nothing comes even close to matching."
Sonic takes a step back to think. "What if…what if it's not a language? Maybe it's like a…diagram, or a mural. Like it's trying to represent something, not to say something."
This intrigues Tails. "A diagram…a genetic diagram, Sonic, you're a genius!" He starts rapidly inputting commands into the console, and ABCD becomes AGTC.
"Well, I don't know about genius, but…"
"It's so obvious, I can't believe I didn't see it before! This isn't a message, it's DNA!"
"So that leaves a new question. Why is the Moonstone transmitting genetic code?"
Tails immediately stops his console work to ponder the new question. "Sonic…didn't you say that the Moonstone was…calling to you?" Sonic nods. "Sonic, I need a DNA sample, a piece of fur or something."
"Uh…okay." Sonic reaches behind his head, and plucks a quill to give to Tails.
Tails drops the quill into an analyzer on the machine, and almost instantly sees the results in a new line of genetic code on the screen. "Just a moment to compare, and…" The screen starts to blink. "…it's a 100% match. The Moonstone is transmitting an exact replica of your DNA."
"That's…kinda creepy. You think I should touch it?"
"No! That's a worse idea now than ever!"
"Alright. So…what should we do?"
Tails thinks about that a while longer. "Something we can do under more controlled conditions. DNA works in complementary pairs. If we were to artificially transmit the entire complementary sequence…who knows?"
Sonic nods. "Let's give it a try."
The Moonstone has been placed in the center of a whitewashed room, sealed on all sides. Looking down through a thickly reinforced window above are Sonic and Tails, both wearing large goggles. Tails seems to be working on a few different machines. "Everything is just about ready. Sensors are recording, transmission is standing by."
Sonic nods. "Sounds like we're good to go."
"Starting transmission…now!" Tails presses a button. Immediately, the Moonstone inside the sealed chamber begins to glow brighter. "Energy output readings are increasing, Moonstone transmission pattern continuing as expected!" The gem continues to glow brighter and brighter, illuminating the chamber with a rainbow of color. The light grows bright enough to completely conceal the gem itself. Even with their goggles, Sonic and Tails can barely look into the light. "Energy output surpassing measurable levels! It's off the charts, Sonic!"
"Do you think we should stop!?"
"The artificial transmission's already completed! There's no stopping now!" The light grows to unimaginable intensity, covering absolutely everything.
The light begins to subside. "Energy output readings are dropping. Sensors are showing…no way…"
The light subsides entirely. Lying on the floor of the chamber is not a gemstone, but a hedgehog.
To be continued…
Happy 26th Anniversary, Sonic the Hedgehog! This wasn't exactly meant to be an anniversary special, but it just so happened to work out that I wanted the episode take place in early summer, and that I would be publishing it around the same time.
By the way, today, June 23rd, is also this story's one-year anniversary, since it was first published on Sonic's birthday last year. I was hoping to get a little more that 20 episodes in a year, but I've been very happy with everything that's happened so far.
Even though I can't really say that I'm a new writer anymore, I still want your feedback! I want to know as much as I possibly can about how to keep delivering quality content, and that means knowing what my strengths and weaknesses are from an outside perspective. Please, leave reviews! I need you! And, thank you for being a reader! Here's to another great year of Sonic and Chaos!