Prologue: Meet the Echidnas
Mobius, three weeks after Dr. robotnik's defeat on easter island;
Angel Island; a beautiful paradise, drifting high in the skies over Mobius. Also known as the floating island, this massive landmass is totally covered in tropical jungles, snowy mountain peaks, and magnificent ruins. Filled with all the rarest flora and fauna mobius had to offer, the island was the most beautiful home it's only sentient inhabitants, the Echidna tribe, could possibly ask for.
The paradise was not lost on the echidna's current guest, Dr. Ivo Robotnik. He, too, admired all the natural beauty and lush splendor, but not for the reasons the nature-loving tribe did. Looking at the beautiful waterfalls, he saw only a place to dump the toxic runoff from his engineering projects. When he looked at the green jungles and forests, Robotnik saw only raw materials to power his factories. The mad scientist spent his first few days on Angel Island in a hammock, enjoying the beautiful scenery that took centuries to grow, and he was already planning to rip in down in a matter of hours.
"Dr. Robotnik, would you care for another glass of clover juice?" The echidna serving girl asked, taking a glass of the serving tray, and handing it to him. "Or perhaps a fresh plate of kripnik?"
"No thank you, my dear." Dr. Robotnik took the drink, then waved her away dismissively. "I Believe I shall simply relax here for a few hours, until my audience with the chief."
The echidna woman curtsied, and walked away. Sipping his cold drink, Dr. Robotnik chuckled to himself over his fortunate luck. After his 'capture' by an echidna hunting party, the tribe's laws of hospitality had made sure he was treated well. Now, the chief and the royal family wanted an audience with the new stranger, and it was the mad scientist's perfect opportunity to weave his web of deceptive lies.
Since his arrival here, Dr. Robotnik had been doing as much research into the Echidnas as was possible. A tribal society highly similar to earth's Mayan civilization in culture, the Echidna clan were a group of proud honor-bound warriors. Once, they had lived on the surface of mobius with the other animal tribes. According to what the tribe's elders had told him, at the dawn of their civilizations their ancestors had found all eight of the chaos emeralds, including the master emerald. These gems allowed them to tap chaos 'magic' (psionic powers, Robotnik assumed), which they used to create a mighty empire, covering the landscape below in their step pyramid cities.
But one day, four thousand years ago, a royal chief named Pachacamac took control of their empire. A warmonger, he sought to 'abuse' the power of the emeralds, and wage unending war on the neighboring animal tribes. Pachacamac angered a great dragon (a chaos monster of some kind, Robotnik assumed), who attacked the echidna empire, slaying the chief and most of the echidnas, before being defeated by Pachacamac's daughter, Princess Tikal. The survivors of this great calamity scattered the seven regular emeralds to the far corners of the known worlds, burying them deep. The tribe's chaos mages then use the power of master emerald to rip their capital city out of the ground as part of a giant landmass, and lift it into the clouds. The descendants of the surviving echidnas have lived on Angel island for the four thousand years since that tragic event.
"Dr. Robotnik," One of the echidna servants called to him, bowing. "I am sorry to disturb you, but the chief is ready for your audience in the throne room."
Robotnik had just finished his kripnik (an echidna delicacy), when he was called to meet with the royal family. The mad scientist was led through the city of Marble Garden zone, towards a large Mayan-style palace, partially concealed by the overgrowth of the island's foliage. Seeing the amazement on Robotnik's face at the sight, one of the echidna guards escorting him said;
"Welcome, stranger..." The warrior said proudly. "... welcome to the hidden palace zone."
The mad scientist was escorted through the large halls of the palace, arriving in the rather large throne room. Upon the throne sat a red Echidna in a crown and royal regalia; Chief Pakal, if Robotnik was not mistaken. He was the descendant of the fallen Pachacamac, and seemed to have the same ambition of his ancestor. Beside him sat Queen Alucion, Pakal's wife and co-ruler. the orange furred echidna looked just as fierce as her warrior husband, but seemed to have a gentleness about her that Pakal apparently of them were obviously curious about Robotnik's sudden appearance in their domain, and were obviously curious about where this stranger had come from.
"Greetings, guest Robotnik." The chief raised his hand, as the mad scientist bowed to him. "We hope you have been treated well by our subjects during your stay."
After greetings were exchanged, Pakal and Alucion questioned Robotnik carefully. He explained everything, telling the story of his battles with Sonic and His friends, but carefully slanting the story so that he sounded like the hero, and they seemed like the villains. When he had finished, he received a knowing look from the two monarchs.
"So, you are a human from the planet earth." Pakal noted, as Robotnik finished his tale. "We have had contact with your species before. Our ancestors had diplomatic and trade relations with the people you call the ancient Maya."
"And we are intrigued by your encounters with the blue hedgehog." The queen continued. "We actually attempted to deal with the hedgehog's threat, when he was only a child."
The two royals went on to tell Robotnik the story of how years ago, they had sent a party of warriors to capture Sonic when he was a child. But the warriors got overzealous, losing the child, and murdering his owl guardian."
"Both of us regret what happened to Longclaw, we did not intend for her to die." Pakal muttered sadly. "The warriors who acted rashly and tried to kill the hedgehog and slew her, were dealt with most... severely."
"I can see that." Robotnik replied nervously, looking at the royal guards sharp, jade-toothed swords, perfect for executions. "But why were you after Sonic? To steal his power?"
"Nonsense, of what use to us is a hedgehog who can run abnormally fast?" Alucion replied, pointing to a mural on the wall behind the thrones. "The prophecy, depicted in that image, is the reason we sought to capture sonic."
Robotnik stared at the mural- a large stitched work showing what looked like Sonic fighting a large robot that resembled the mad scientist, for possession of the master emerald. The truth then dawned on Robotnik;
"They believe the prophecy states Sonic is destined to steal the master emerald, and I will save it for them. That's why they didn't slay me on sight when I crashed here!" Dr. Robotnik deduced. "These superstitious, primitive fools! I shall turn their own superstition against them!"
"Great chief, mighty queen..." He bowed to them again. "I wish to help you in your fight against this terrible hedgehog!" He held up a small holographic device, which projected a giant warp ring. "I shall create a giant portal to earth, powered by the master emerald, which shall transport the entire echidna army there! In this way, you may send a force to capture Sonic!"
"Oh noble Robotnik, chosen hero of the great prophecy, we know you are wise in magic-science." Queen Alucion stated. "You shall be permitted to build this device, so we may prevent Sonic the hedgehog's great evil from causing harm to the world!"
And so, for the next several months, Robotnik worked. He slowly crafted a large metal ring, filled with circuits and wires hooked up to the master emerald for power. While he worked, most of the island's inhabitants treated him as a savior. Even Knuckles, son of the chief and his queen, showed great respect for the mad scientist. A proud, strong echidna of honor, the tribal prince would often spend time around Robotnik as he worked, bragging of his warriors prowess. (probably because no one else in the echidna tribe would listen his vain boasts).
"Robotnik, do you know I have fought many fierce battles?" The echidna boasted. "Why, in one fight, I slew seven battle birds with one mighty punch!"
"Mmmm Hmmm." Robotnik replied absentmindedly, trying to ignore the arrogant young prince. He knew the youth was lying; the chief told him Knuckles had never ventured off the island. Still, Robotnik didn't doubt Knuckles was as tough as his empty boasting; The young prince had been born with a super-strength that could punch a hole through a mountain, as well as the ability to glide short distances. The echidnas said these were gifts passed to him by the master emerald, so that he could serve as it's guardian and protector. Some echidnas even said he could sense mystical artifacts buried in the ground, and use his echidna digging abilities to unearth them.
But there was one who didn't trust Robotnik or his actions, and always regarded him with suspicion. There were two other inhabitants on angel island who were not echidnas, guests of the royal family who actually lived on the surface. One of these was professor Vanilla Rabbit, an expert on ancient languages that the tribe had been invited on live on the island for a year. She was the only one who could translate the ancient Echidna language, an ability the tribe had lost over the centuries. Professor was a cream-colored rabbit with brown eyes, and wore a very conservative (almost Victorian) pink and purple dress and high heels. This tall and regal lady was far more beautiful than any human woman could ever hope to be, Robotnik mused (though he wasn't into that sort of thing when it came to Mobians). And her graceful presence was even enough to give the mad scientist pause.
"I do not trust you, Ivo Robtnik." She told him off to his face one day. "I believe the prophecy has been misread, and you are taking advantage of the echidna's good will!"
Even more unnerving was Vanilla's sickeningly cute little daughter, Cream the Rabbit. The little twerp was the same age as that annoying little fox sidekick of Sonic's, she was a smaller version of her mother, in a short vermilion dress. The echidnas believed she was another child 'gifted' with power by the chaos emeralds, given the freakish ability to fly with her ears, as well as some kind of healing abilities, he had been told. The adorable little puffball sickened Robotnik whenever she was around, and he did his best to avoid her whenever possible.
"Hey mister Robotnik. I picked you some pretty flowers." The annoying little mobian told him, in her high-pitched, innocent tone. "I thought it might help cheer you up."
"Go away, you little urchin." He growled at her, concentrating on some blueprints he was reading. "I have more important things to do."
Finally, after nearly a month of work, the great ring was ready. The entire echidna tribe had gathered, to see the war party off. (except for knuckles, who had sutbbornly gone off to hunt on his own, at Robotnik's insistence). As the chief and his queen stood ready to lead there warriors though the portal, he looked at robotnik with gratitude.
"This is a momentous day, Dr. Ivo Robtnik. One that shall be remembered for all time." Queen Alucion congratulated him. "The echidna tribe shall forever be in your debt."
"Oh, think nothing of it, your majesties!" Robotnik laughed, hopping behind the great ring. "Have a nice trip!"
The mad scientist hit the button, and the electrified giant ring buzzed to life. Suddenly, a wave of energy burst forth, and every member of the echidna tribe- every man, woman, child present- was sucked into the ring instantly, disappearing with a wail of anguish. Robotnik didn't know where the ring was sending them, and he really didn't care. But the terrifying truth was the members of the tribe had been sent to the special zone, and endless void where they would all float forever without aging, or dying. There they will float forever, for unlike the chaos emeralds they had no energy signature to track. And for the rest of his life, Knuckles would never see the other members of his tribe, ever again.
Although he was not yet aware of it, Knuckles the Echidna was truly alone, in away no other mobian was. For although there were legends of the spirit of Princess Tikal residing in the master emerald, and rumors of Knuckles's great-grandfather Athair- the nigh-immortal chaos shaman/mage living as a hermit in the abandoned desert palace zone- Knuckles was not yet aware of these things. He was the last member of the echidna tribe, anywhere on the surface of mobius.
Pulling out a radio communication device Robotnik spoke into it. "Attention, Metropolis Zone. This is Dr. Ivo Robotnik. I have disposed of the entire Echidna tribe, except for that gullible fool, Knuckles." The mad scientist boasted. "I will easily be able to convince him that Sonic had sabotaged the ring, and annihilated his people! With his help, I shall lure Sonic and his friends to Angel island, and destroy them!" Robotnik laughed manically. "Scratch! Grounder! Coconuts! If you are hearing this, send over my backup airship, the flying battery, along with my new army, the egg robos! Except for you three idiots, I'm scrapping all of my badnik forces, FOR GOOD!"
As the mad scientist gloated, Vanilla and Cream were watching his actions from a hiding spot nearby. Pulling out a warp ring, Vanilla through it in the air, and it expanded into a ring portal.
"Cream, listen to me." She told her daughter, shoving a bag of warp rings into her hands. "Go to earth, find Sonic the Hedgehog, and bring him back here! I believe he is the true hero of the prophecy, and only he can stop Robotnik!"
"But mama!" Cream pleaded, tears forming in her eyes. "I can't leave you behind, I don't wanna go!"
"You have to go, NOW!" The older rabbit tossed her daughter into the ring portal, tears in her eyes. "Goodbye, little one! I love you!"
As the ring portal closed, Vanilla the rabbit heard footsteps coming up behind her...