Sorry about the delay folks. I've been busy and lazy as of late. Hope this makes up for the wait.

Chapter 45

The sun was setting on New Sylvania, and Ravana could see it from his top floor office. The sky was a luminous crimson color today, a hue that he always did find appealing. All of the daytime employees had gone home, but the tiger had stayed behind for reasons only he knew...he was expecting a guest.

The sound of someone teleporting into the room alerted him to the arrival of his guest, but he didn't even have to look behind him to know who it was.

"Lord Nazo, punctual as always," the tiger addressed him in a deep, but surprisingly pleasant voice as he approached the hedgehog. "It was but an hour ago that preparations were finished. We're ready to fire the first volley." Nazo raised an eyebrow in surprise.

"You told me that it needed the Chaos Emeralds AND those twelve accursed keys to work," the demon hedgehog replied. "Tell me the truth." The tiger bade Nazo to sit down as he returned to his chair. Nazo opted to levitate, doing so positioned as if leaning on a recliner.

"While it will require them to operate at its maximum capacity, it is still capable of leveling a town fifty miles away on its own. But our operatives were able to secure both a Chaos Emerald and one of those so-called keys. Nazo, who needed the Emeralds, seemed to grow more interested, and leaned forward.

"Well, I see I can count on ONE minion. At last report, half of the members of the Twelve have already unlocked some degree of their inner power." Ravana grinned slightly as he picked up the microphone.

"Gentleman, our guest has arrived, and he is eager to see what your hard work has come to. Initiate the firing sequence." With that, a monitor on the far left side of the room came down, and displayed the weapon onscreen. It was much like a typical artillery cannon, but far more massive, and strewn with wires and tubes. Nazo quickly noticed that for some reason, the cannon aimed at a very steep angle.

"I think your aim is off, Ravana…" Nazo warned the tiger.

"Nope…we're right on target. Firing in 3…2…1…"

For a few seconds the power in the entire city (save the building they were in) went out. During this moment of darkness, a sound not unlike a thousand thunderbolts crashing down rocked the city as the cannon fired; a single wide stream of energy flickering ten thousand colors and shining like the sun burst forth from the cannon with tremendous force, cracking every foundation in New Sylvania.

As Nazo averted his eyes from the sight, Ravana suddenly put his plan into action. In a few quick moments he drew a small gun from beneath his desk and fired it right at Nazo. The demon hedgehog winced and cried out as he felt himself being encased in metal.

Meanwhile, the blast had struck its mark dead-on…the ultimate weapon created by ProwerCorp, under Ravana's direction had aimed straight at Nazo's floating crystal castle. Though the beam could not annihilate the structure, it did cause irreparable damage, and Ravana savored the vision of the mighty castle plummeting into the ocean. As the light faded, he grinned wickedly at the second part of his plan: in Nazo's place was a strange metallic version of him, still glowing light blue…he had been roboticized.

"Didn't expect that, did you, Nazo?!" Ravana roared mockingly. "In your hubris you gave me the method with which I would overthrow you!" He tromped over to the still shocked robot and delivered a ferocious kick. "Now you are my slave, and I shall rule…HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!"

But Ravana's gloating was cut short when he saw the mechanical Nazo fall backward unceremoniously, leaving the original standing in its place. An expression of darkest anger and wrath was on Nazo's visage; his eyes were pitch black and emitting black steam.

"You…" Nazo growled. "You ungrateful, conniving worm! I gave you power over the storm, the ability to effortlessly sway others to your will, and knowledge of ancient powers…and THIS is how you thank me…with this betrayal?!" Ravana backed away, his heart racing furiously and his entire body quaking with fear. He did not realize that Nazo could have done that, and feared for his life, especially as the master he had betrayed so blatantly forced him to the floor.

"I should have known better than to put so much trust in you," Nazo concluded as he raised his hand high while it crackled with black energy. "It is time to take back what I gave you three thousand years ago!" With that, Nazo plunged his hand into Ravana's chest and violently withdrew an orb of yellow, blue and white energy. Ravana cried out in pain as the great power that he had as the abomination of Thunder left him, though Nazo had no wound of any sort. The demon hedgehog then formed an energy ball in his hand and forced into the tiger's face at point black range, instantly disintegrating his now-mortal head, not even letting a drop of blood spurt out.

He turned now to the essence of the abomination, and picked it up. He glanced over at the mechanical shell that Ravana's roboticizer gun had created, and smirked. He let the orb free, and it floated right into the metallic Nazo, who sprung instantly back to life.

"I…live?" the robot said tonelessly.

"You were born from me, metallic one," Nazo addressed his robotic doppelganger. "And I have imbued you with the power of the abomination of Thunder. You will stay here to make sure no one else betrays me as your predecessor has."

"I will," the robot replied obediently. Without another word, Nazo took his leave to salvage his floating castle…but he would have another surprise waiting for him.

-- -- -- -- -- -- --

Dark Amy had remained in the confines of the castle when the cannon struck. Amazingly her body survived, and she awoke in what appeared to be an underwater cave. Immediately she saw the magnificent form of what seemed to be a faceless angel made of liquid turquoise.

"Greetings, born of inner darkness…" the being spoke.

"…Huh?!" Dark Amy gasped as she looked about. "Who are you…and did you save me?"

"I sheltered your body from the searing light of the beam that consumed your floating home. I come to you with an offer."

"At this point I'll try anything," the hedgehog demoness replied with a shrug.

"Accept the gift I will give you, and the power of the Corruption will be yours." She hesitated, unsure of whether accepting this gift was a good idea.

At this moment Nazo, having located Dark Amy, suddenly appeared on the scene. The liquid angel noticed this and extended a single hand. In a moment, Nazo, still furious from being betrayed once, was suddenly engulfed by the liquid form of the angel, and before long, the two had fused. Though his general shape was not changed, he now bore the alien being's wings, and a cold, somewhat lifeless expression. The pink hedgehog took a few steps back in shock and awe at this sight.

"Nazo…you're…"

"I am no longer Nazo," the new being said in a mixed combination of the alien's voice and Nazo's. "I am Phazus, and I am here to bring about the dawn of the blue paradise…"

"Blue paradise…what the hell are you…"

But that was also she could say before she was also smothered in the liquid. When all was said and done, she too had transformed. Rather than seeming to be of pure liquid, her body was much more crystalline like Mephiles.

"Splendid," Phazus chuckled. "Now…one thing remains." The corrupted demon hedgehog stuck his hand into his body and extracted what appeared to be an unconscious, naked and dark green hedgehog with mussed quills and ragged fur.

"There…the last restraint has been removed, now, let us rebuild this ruined castle and continue where we left off…" The two left the cave via teleporting, and back out into the open sea. There, Phazus then took hold of the unconscious hedgehog and looked toward the rising sun.

"After all these years he still lives…" the winged hedgehog mumbled. He spun around once like an Olympic hammer thrower, and tossed the unconscious being far, far away.

-- -- -- -- -- --

"Well, shuck a corn cob and call me Donovan…" Jehoso, the pig executive exclaimed as he and the members of the Board of Directors entered Ravana's office to find the tiger's headless corpse lying on the floor where it had fallen the night before.

"Yesssss, it issss most shocking," his fellow board member, a cobra named Gendhe, nodded in agreement. In all, the Board of Directors now numbered a total of six. While none of them possessed the powers Ravana had, each remained fabulously wealthy, snappily dressed and business-savvy. In addition to those two, a white goat with a metal prosthetic horn, a monitor lizard with an eye-patch, a silvery-colored rat that seemed very ill-groomed, and a mallard duck with a pipe in his mouth.

"But tha-a-a-a-at leaves another ma-a-a-atter," the goat, Yorrick, bleated. "Who's gonna-a-a-a-a run the show?" Jehoso was quick to answer.

"Well of course, it's gonna be me! Ol' Ravana here trusted me the most!"

"Ya couldn't even run a hundred yards, let alone a massive company, ya tub of century-old lard!" the duck mocked. "I, Phineas O'Mallard, should run ProwerCorp!"

"Zut! You all know zat I, Jacques D'Sue-Ur, should be running zee company," the rat quipped in a distinct accent like one from France.

"Your hair would scare off the customers, surrender-mouse!" the monitor lizard, named Rufus, mocked. "Only one as cunning and smart as me should run this show!" Before long, all six executives were arguing over who should be Ravana's successor. This argument went along for some time before Yorrick, realizing that this whole mess was getting nowhere, bleated loudly to get everyone's attention.

"Obviously this isn't ge-e-e-e-tting anywhere, because we all think we're qualified. Certainly we can come up with a more democratic method." After some discussion, the six businessmen agreed to pick their SECOND choice for who would be best. To everyone's surprise, they had all picked Jehoso, the pig, to be the new president.

"Ah knew I was the right pig!" the pig grunted, shaking his large gut a bit as he did. "Now, gentle-Mobians, let's see if we can find out the reason for the late Ravana's assassination…"

-- -- -- -- -- -- --

The cave was a relief from the desert heat of the next morning for Scratch and Grounder, who were too terrified to confront Locke again, and had to bide their time. But as the two robots bided their time, a stranger entered the vicinity…a purple-haired, fire-wielding one under the rule of Iblis.

"Hey, boltbrains! Get out of my cave!"

Grounder was the first to confront to the hedgehog, but before he could even say a word, Scratch quickly got between them, realizing just who it was, and decided to try and convince her to go with them.

"Oh-ho-ho, we're sorry," Scratch apologized. "We had no idea this was yours. Actually, you're just the person we were looking for! Your brother and sister are itching to see you!"

"…Lavender and Vince?" the hedgehog exclaimed. "You know where they are?"

"Just don't try anything funny!" Grounder demanded, pointing one of his drill arms at Violet.

"Not at all; I was looking for them myself. It's a good thing I found you two."

"Great, we'll head back tonight!" Scratch said. But the hedgehog had other plans. All she had to do was to wait for one of the robots to display the coordinates, with which she could use to locate her siblings.She sat down, and decided to make chit-chat with the two robots, hoping to get some information. But before she could open her mouth, Grounder foolishly made chit-chat as well.

"Y'know, we saw you before, but with a bunch of other people."

"I don't remember anything like that," the hedgehog replied, wondering these two robots were out of their minds. "The only people I've ever known are my siblings." She was going to keep mum about Iblis for now. "Are you sure you have me?"

"It was you for sure!" Grounder answered confidently. "You look just like your siblings said you would." The hedgehog now seemed suspicious, and wondered if Iblis was hiding something from her. But she kept that suspicion in the back of her mind for the moment, and continued to make idle talk with the robots.

-- -- -- -- -- -- -- --

In the valley where Scarlet and the children lived, there was much whispering and anxiety about the second person to fall from the sky. Amazingly, the green, naked hedgehog that Phazus had flung ended up here, thousands of miles away, yet almost completely unharmed. Scarlet told the children to stay put while she went to investigate.

The hedgehog had landed in a pool of mud where the children would play after a rain, but it was a marvel he had survived his journey. Scarlet was further amazed as he finally began to wake up. As he sat up, the fox yelped with surprise.

"Sir, are you alright?" But to her amazement, she saw the hedgehog start looking at his body, and started crying out happily and dancing around as he did.

"I did it! I'm free! After all this time I'm me again! My nightmare is over!"

"I guess that answers my question," Scarlet said, now averting her eyes, uneasy about viewing this newcomer in the nude. Realizing that he had been found, the hedgehog now turned to Scarlet. But as he got a better look, he recalled a memory from his union with Nazo and realized who she was.

"You're…the last Summoner!" he exclaimed. Scarlet nodded, but at the same time, showed great disapproval. She explained why she had turned her back on the book that had been forced upon her. As he heard this, the other children began to approach. His eyes scanned the children, and when he laid eyes on Tida, his pupils widened, and his eyes began to swell with tears.

"T-t-Tida…" he stammered. Tida poked her head out from the crowd, and she too began to cry with joy. The two hedgehogs rushed toward each, much to everyone's astonishment.

"Daddy!" she cried as she leapt into her father's muddy arms.

"Daddy?" the other children exclaimed.