A/N: This is the final chapter of Guardian: Darkness Rising. I want to thank all of those who stuck with me for this story, and I'm glad you enjoyed it enough to stay. This chapter is slightly different as it is my actual first dialogue chapter ever for any story. If I've made mistakes, I would appreciate any tips for the future. The story will conclude as it began, with a chapter of Knuckles. I may have made the character a little OOC, but it was required for this one. Again, thanks to all who read and stayed on.

Disclaimer: Just writing for fun.

It seems no one can help me now
I'm in too deep, there's no way out
This time I have really led myself astray.
Soul Asylum "Runaway Train"

Fighting in the Darkness

Deep within the chambers of a dark room a small orb of light is seen. The light is fading, but a figure is faintly visible within, shackles on wrists and ankles. The prisoner is growing weaker as the pain and despair increases from what he is witnessing: the terror and destruction he himself is causing. The longer he watches, the more agonized he becomes.

I can't stand this anymore. How much longer is this going to continue? I only wished to make things right with my father, and take up my duties again. Instead, I fall into a trap. Julie-Su was right, I shouldn't have come alone. Finitevus manipulated my emotions, and now I am responsible for all this pain.

"Ah, but what about the good we've done?" a voice responds, as though someone had heard his thoughts.

Knuckles turns his head towards the direction the voice comes from. Glaring, he growls and snaps back, "What good? All I've seen is misery and fear."

Silence for a moment is his only response. Then he hears footsteps. A few moments later, a figure appears out of the gloom. The individual is dressed in armor of blue and gold, complete with helmet, no features to be seen except for his mouth and the dreadlocks of an Echidna. As he comes closer, the power he possesses radiates strongly from him. Knuckles' face twists in rage as the figure approaches. He knows the figure's identity.

The figure stops in front of him, a cold smile visible under his faceplate, and begins to speak. "We are doing Mobius a service. Technology has corrupted this world. The citizens are far too dependent on it, and it is slowly poisoning the planet. Mobius is dying and we must save it. We started well. The Dingoes' city is destroyed, their general dead, and the Dingoes banished. We freed the Dark Legion from the prison of being cyborgs."

Knuckles looks into the eyes of the helmet. "Not all the Dingoes are evil, a few were spies helping the Dark Legion. And the Dark Legion certainly didn't thank us for 'freeing them' as you put it!"

The being snorted. "They are fortunate to be alive, and most were smart enough to realize I meant business. They were willing enough to go to Albion. And the villagers were sent to join them. The Echidna are finally united and they will rebuild."

Knuckles growls. "They weren't given a choice. You terrorized those villagers including our family. They fear us, and will never forgive us. I suppose you have some rationale for our actions in New Mobotropolis, too? You destroyed the only protection New Mobotropolis has, and attempted to destroy our friends and comrades. And don't get me started on what you tried to do to Julie-Su. She loves us, and you attacked her when she tried to reason with you."

The cold smile vanishes, replaced by the sight of clenched teeth. "Anyone who stands in my way will pay for their defiance. I will destroy them." A pause. "And to hear this from you. You were mutated due to genetic experiments, a product of technology. Technology created divisions among our people. Robotnik poisons the land with the smog from his factories and devastates the environment of the planet using his ground forces and Egg Fleet. He takes entire populations from towns and cities, putting them in his Egg Grapes, and drains their life force to power his city. Such evil must be eliminated. And yet you defend the use of it? I find that somewhat hypocritical. After all, not only did it mutate you, you did grow up without requiring it, after all."

Knuckles' rage begins to overwhelm him at those words. Yes, when he learned the truth about his mutations, it did anger him. And yes, Robotnik was responsible for so much destruction that it would take decades for Mobius to recover once he was finally defeated. However…

"Dad had his reasons for doing that, and he explained his reasons when he told me. I may resent it, but I understand why he did it. And attacking Robotnik the way we did makes us no better than him!

As for all technology being evil, a computer AI program saved the population of Knothole from sharing the fate others suffered, transporting us to a place of safety and creating the shield around New Mobotropolis. Technology saved the populations of Angel Island two hundred years ago from nuclear destruction by transporting them into pocket zones. Technology cleaned the Island to return those populations. We've used inventions of Rotor's to fight Robotnik, and used it to stop Sonic when he was roboticized. I may not always like how technology is used, but I at least try to understand it! We can't let Finitevus win this, Enerjak! I won't…"

The words are cut off as a hand clenches his throat. Enerjak growls, "You are weak. Once Finitevus restores my power, I will finish my task. Then you will be silenced forever."

Struggling for air, Knuckles manages to choke out a few more words. "And what about when Finitevus finishes with us?"

Before Enerjak can reply, a new voice breaks through the darkness.

"I'm going to beat the evil out of you!" (1)

Knuckles, recognizing that voice, manages a weak smile of satisfaction. Enerjak's expression twists with rage, and he throws Knuckles to the ground, hard.

"I will deal with you once I am done with that annoying pest" he growls, and storms off into the darkness.

Struggling to stay conscious, Knuckles watches the battle between Super Sonic and Enerjak begin. For the first time since his ordeal started, he feels hope.

No matter the consequences for me afterward, this will be the final battle. Good luck, Sonic.

(1) Quote from Archie Sonic the Hedgehog #183, "Desperate Times"