Disclaimer: I do not own Sonic the Hedgehog or Mega Man X. Sonic the Hedgehog, Mega Man X, and all related characters are copyright: Sega and Capcom. So in a way this fanfic belongs to them, even though I am writing it. This story is available free for reading by the public. Dr. Trek and "The Maverick" are copyright me though; I did essentially make them up. All rights reserved.

Notice: This fanfic does contain violence, (nothing ultra gory though), and minor harsh language.


Merger

Chapter Four: Power Struggle

Mobius, 2011

"Well look who has come to visit me," Zero looks at his visitor as he lies against the wall with his hands behind his head. He notices the bandage over her nose, and the distressed and angry expression on her face.

"What the hell is going on!" she shouts.

"What? I haven't done anything!" Zero frowns.

"Explain to me who this is!" Rouge shows Zero her phone, which has live video of a black and red hedgehog fighting a flaming bird-like man. "I don't know how, but I know you have something to do with this! That's my friend out there fighting… whatever that thing is!"

Zero sits up when he sees the bird-like man, "Holy hell."

Rouge growls and shows her fangs, "So you do know him!"

"Yeah, I know him," Zero walks up to the bars, "but he's no friend of mine! Let me out of here!"

"What!" Rouge takes a step back. She's about ready to kick him through the bars. "I'm not going to let you out!"

"Damn it, that's a maverick out there!" Zero looks Rouge right in the eyes. "Just like that nut job that attacked you in the mall, but a thousand times worse! You'll need my help."

"Ma'am," a G.U.N. soldier calls from the other room, "the chopper is ready to leave."

Rouge swallows as she considers her options. Does she dare trust this man? She looks up at Zero and then nods, "Alright. Someone get the jail keys!"

"Don't bother," Zero forces the cell door open like it was made out of paper. "I need my swords."

Rouge is awestruck. He could have broken out of jail with ease and yet he did not. She smiles at him, "you're just full of surprises aren't you, pretty boy?"

Zero gives of a growling sigh, "Will you stop calling me that?"

Everything is burning. The tents are burning, the equipment is burning, the ground is burning, plants are burning, and bodies are burning. E-123 Omega scans the area and finds his ally Shadow the Hedgehog locked in battle with a foe of incredible power. The robot activates his boosters. The messages have been sent and he is not about to let his friend battle this monster alone.

"Chaos Spear!" Shadow fires a yellow energy bolt at his enemy, but the enemy dodges the attack and retaliates with a wave of fire. Shadow ducks behind a rock and avoids the attack, but has to move away fast as a talon lands on it with crushing force.

Blaze Heatnix is enjoying this fight. He has not had a fight this good since his battle against X and Zero. He does not remember the whole fight. It is actually hard to recall one's own death. He does remember the exhilaration of the battle as he finally faced off against enemies that had a chance against him. This opponent is just like those two were in his eyes, a worthy foe. He recalls the first blows they exchanged.

Moments earlier…

"Damn it all to hell!" Shadow charges a cluster of energy in his hand. "Chaos… Spear!" the ebony hedgehog lets loose a yellow bolt of energy at Blaze Heatnix, who directs the palm of his hand forward and unleashes long burst of fire. The attacks pass each other and are dodged by their intended targets.

Blaze Heatnix calmly watches as Shadow's spear bounces off the shielding of the cylinder and strikes the side of the crater, and sends junk that use to be part of Eggman's base spinning into the air.

Shadow rolls away to only hear the screams of people as the attack he just avoided tears through the G.U.N. encampment. The attack then explodes into a napalm inferno when it reaches some research equipment. He watches the mayhem ensues and growls like a wolf. He takes out a green gem and holds it tightly, "Chaos… Control!" The red and black hedgehog vanishes in a flash of light.

"Hmmm?" Blaze Heatnix glances around. "Ha, run away have…" a white and red shoe strikes him on the side of the face. The hit slams him into the ground creating a cloud of dust.

The ebony hedgehog juggles the green gem, a Chaos Emerald, in his right hand. "You have no idea who you are up against."

Two eyes flash red from within the dust cloud, "Enlighten me."

"I am Shadow the Hedgehog, the Ultimate Life Form!"

"Ultimate Life Form?" Blaze Heatnix laughs. A single synchronized flap of his wings clears away the dust. "What an arrogant, and pathetic, title."

Shadow growls at this monster insulting his prized title, "and just who are you?"

"I am Blaze Heatnix," the flames on the maverick's armor flare up, "the Eternal Flame of Death!"

"Talk about an arrogant title," Shadow laughs, "Chaos Control!" Again, he vanishes in a flash of light.

Blaze Heatnix's eyes glow red and the flames on his armor grow larger. Shadow appears behind him, but the maverick is ready this time. "Magma Flame!"

One second he is looking at his opponent's backside, the next Shadow is twirling out of control and there is red and blue fire all around him. His body drills a bit into the ground when he lands. All he can hear are screams and the intense roar of monstrous flames. If it was not for his Chaos Control, Shadow's voice would have joined those screams. He uses the ability to avoid a wall of fire rushing towards him.

Present time…

Shadow's jet shoes help propel him forward as he speeds along the scorched ground. He swerves around burning vehicles and walls of fire. Blaze Heatnix flies past him and turns to face the hedgehog, while still flying. 'Damn, I don't believe this! He's faster than me?' The maverick extends his hands forward and fires twisting vortexes of flame that ignite the ground at Shadow's feet.

The jet black hedgehog leaps forward to get away from heated ground, and attempt to kick Blaze Heatnix. The forward kick misses and Shadow does a swinging kick, but that is avoided as well. He lands and his hands glow yellow. "Chaos Spear!" He launches numerous energy spears in succession. The moment he throws the last spear he spins and dashes off in his foe's direction with a booming burst of speed.

Blaze Heatnix moves side-to-side avoiding the energy spears thrown by Shadow. He sees his enemy rushing towards a piece of ground that has been torn up and now resembles a battle scarred skate ramp. He knows the spears are a distraction and the hedgehog intends to launch himself at the maverick from below. Thus, he kicks the last spear straight down. It heads right for Shadow who is already air born after hitting the ramp. Shadow comes out of his spin, catches the Chaos Spear, and throws it right back at his opponent.

Blaze Heatnix's eyes widen. The spear bursts when it hits him. Shadow then lands a firm kick to the maverick's abdomen. He hangs in the air face to face with him and glares. "You thought you could hit me with my own attack?"

Shadow strikes with a barrage of punches to Blaze Heatnix's head and a barrage of kicks to his body before grabbing him by the throat. "Let's see you survive this!" Shadow's eyes and stripes glow a vicious red, "Chaos… Blast!"

A spherical explosion of chaos energy erupts from Shadow. The shockwave from the attack snuffs out the flames. The land rumbles as the ball of energy begins to touch the ground. The cylinder seems to react to the energy as its shielding starts to pulsate rapidly.

Blaze Heatnix can feel the energy from the attack pounding and cutting into him. It is so intense that he cannot move or reignite his flames. Shadow keeps his grip on the maverick's throat. An almost sadistic smirk appears on his face as hears his enemy suffer in pain. Finally he releases his grip and the force of the Chaos Blast jerks the maverick to the ground with a violent crash.

The attack dissipates and Shadow lands near a smoking hole in the ground. He takes a deep breath and laughs, "Now you know why they call me the Ultimate Life Form."

The inside of the hole glows orange and twisting flames shoot out of it. An explosion turns to hole into a miniature crater. Blaze Heatnix's armor is dented with a few superficial cracks around it. He laughs like he is actually happy about receiving real damage. "Outstanding! You actually hurt me! You are indeed a worthy foe!"

Shadow clinches his fists and growls, "I've had enough of you!" "Chaos… urk!" he finds the tables turned. His throat is now in the grip of the maverick, who rushed him in a blink of an eye.

Blaze Heatnix laughs again, "You maybe the Ultimate Life Form, but you are still just a mere life form. A bag of flesh and meat is nothing compared to the power of a maverick reploid!"

Shadow yells in pain as fire encircles him and a blast of hot energy sends him through a boulder. The dust from hitting the boulder helps suffocate the flames and the rest are put out after the he rolls on the ground a few times.

"Now, it's time to… ugh!" an army of high caliber bullets ram into Blaze Heatnix. E-123 Omega lands and points his machine guns at the maverick.

"Shadow are you injured?" the robot asks.

"I told you to call for help!" Shadow shouts fearing for the safety of his mechanical friend.

"I have accomplished that objective. Reinforcements will arrive shortly."

"No, get out of here! I can handle this!"

"You are in need of assistance."

"I said get out of here, Omega!"

"You," Blaze Heatnix eyes Omega with a furious glare, "worthless, obsolete piece of junk! How dare you try to interfere?"

The word "obsolete" causes Omega's eyes to flash and his machine guns start to spin, "I will demonstrate who is…"

"Silence, you pest!" Blaze Heatnix whips his arm around and shoots a wave of fire that cuts Omega in half at the waist.

"OMEGA!" Shadow can feel his heart sink as he watches his friend separate in two. Omega's legs fall to their knees and then collapse forward. His top half slides down the slope behind him.

The now half-a-robot digs his hand into the ground to stop himself. His A.I. is having trouble fathoming what just happened to him. He was sliced in two as if he was just a common consumer model. Omega's eyes glow with an angry tone. He turns himself over, and slowly starts to claw and pull his way back up the slope.

"You will pay for that!" Shadow clinches the green Chaos Emerald in his hand.

Blaze Heatnix eyes the Emerald, "So that's what a Chaos Emerald looks like." The fire of his armor bursts to life and he swiftly raises a hand to the sky.

Shadow gasps and covers his face with his arms as twisting flames pop out the ground and dance around him in a tight circle. His entire body feels the heat. He wonders if this is what a lobster feels when it is boiled alive. He hisses in pain as the heated Emerald he is holding begins to sting his hand. He has to get away from this now. "Chaos Control!"

Blaze Heatnix laughs quietly to himself when he spots a flash of light nearby. His whole body engulfs into violent fire. He flies towards where the flash of light occurred leaving a trail of heat in the air. It is almost as if he is setting the air ablaze.

Shadow pants with his eyes closed as he feels his fur and skin beginning to cool off. Suddenly, he feels a sharp burning pain on his chest. A force is pressing against him and violently shoving him back. He eyes jolt open because of the pain and he sees the source. Blaze Heatnix's talon his pressing against his chest. The maverick looks like he is made entirely out of fire at this point. The green Chaos Emerald is forced from Shadow's grasp. The Ultimate Life Form slams into the ground a distance away from where he was. His vision blurs in and out. Every attempt to move is futile as his body just does not have the energy to do it anymore. He maintains conciseness however.

Blaze Heatnix's flames die down to their normal levels and he catches the green Chaos Emerald as it falls. "Not what I came here to get, but getting it will only put us ahead of schedule." The maverick gives the Emerald a quick visual inspection before turning his attention to his defeated opponent. "You fought well," he speaks loud enough to hear without resorting to shouting, "however, this fight is mine."

"It's… not over…" Shadow tries to will his body to move, "I will not lose to you…" His attempts to move are in vain. His body just cannot recover fast enough from the beating he has endured.

"Trying to fight to the bitter end are we? Typical," Blaze Heatnix rubs the underside of his beak. "Do I just kill you now, or let you live in the hopes you can give me another entertaining battle in the future?"

Two sounds echoing through the mountains gain Blaze Heatnix's attention. The sounds are that of a transport helicopter and that of a twin propeller airplane. The maverick turns to see two aircraft headed towards the area. One is a gun metal colored Chinook helicopter with a "G" symbol on the side and the letters "G.U.N." beneath it. The other is an orange and white airplane with a streamlined body design. It has a propeller engine on each wing. The fuselage has the word "Tornado" across the side in white and the number "4" is behind it in black with a red outline. The fuselage also has two cockpit canopies. Though they are coming from the same general direction, they are not flying together. The airplane is closer than the helicopter.

"It looks like a war zone here," Tails leans his head out and gazes at the devastated ground. He notes numerous destroyed vehicles and tents littering the burnt and blackened ground.

"What kind of monster could do all this?" Sonic sits next to Tails in the front cockpit.

"That kind," X leans out from the rear cockpit and points towards the cylinder, more specifically the figures standing near the edge of the crater that houses it.

"Is that one of those 'mavericks' you talked about?" Tails asks. He already got introduced to X and had a brief discussion with him during the flight.

"Yes," X tenses up a bit, "he is extremely dangerous. I can't believe someone actually rebuilt him."

"Well," Sonic hops out of his seat and stands on the fuselage between the two cockpits. "Let's give him a proper greeting. Bring the plane lower, Tails."

Tails pushes the flight stick down and the Tornado 4 glides to a much lower altitude.

"Wait," X tries to get Sonic to reconsider his actions but the blue hedgehog jumps off and hits the ground running. "Is he crazy?"

"Need me to get closer?" Tails asks.

"No," X answers wondering if this fox is as crazy as the hedgehog is, "keep your distance, please." The blue reploid jumps out of the plane and dashes after Sonic.

"That's X!" Zero sees his friend jump from the plane that just went low to the ground. "Put this thing on the ground."

"Shouldn't we get closer?" the helicopter pilot asks.

"Not unless you feel like getting ripped apart and burned alive by that maverick over there," Zero's response makes the pilot and co-pilot gulp.

"Better do as he says boys," Rouge orders. The pilot proceeds to land the helicopter on an undamaged patch of ground a distance from the crater.

"Well," Blaze Heatnix crosses his arms and looks at Shadow, "this is getting interesting. I take it those are more friends of yours."

"If it's who I think it is," Shadow gives a half smirk, "then you're in for the fight of your life."

"We shall see," Blaze Heatnix watches the blue hedgehog approaching fast. However, he spots another blue person approaching as well. His eyes widen and his flames flare up, "What the? X?"

The sound of Shadow laughing, and coughing, makes the maverick sneer. "What's the matter? Someone you know come to ruin your fun?"

Sonic has his usual confident smirk as he runs, but it fades when he gets closer and sees the destruction Blaze Heatnix caused up close. The smell is horrid. Every step he takes sends ash into the air. He spots something big, black and red trying crawl up a slope. "Omega?" He runs over and sees the condition the robot is in. "Omega! What happened to you?"

Omega's head turns around, "I have been severely damaged."

"No kidding!" Sonic gestures at where Omega's legs are suppose to be. "Where are your legs?"

"Do not worry about my wellbeing," Omega slides down the slope a bit. "Shadow is battling an enemy of considerable power. He is in need of assistance."

"Are you sure you'll…" Sonic begins to ask.

"Go now!" Omega interrupts, "You can return for me at a latter time."

"Okay," Sonic speeds up the slope, "I'll send Tails to help you out when I get the chance!"

Omega watches the speeding the hedgehog barrel up the slope and quietly utters, "Take precaution."

Sonic slides to a stop when he reaches Blaze Heatnix. "Okay, psycho! Where's Sha…" he sees the black and red hedgehog lying on the ground, hurt, in the distance, "Shadow!" Sonic's concerned outburst is met with laughter from the maverick. Sonic swings his arm out to his side, "What's the matter with you? Why would you do all this?"

"Are you the one who suppose to give me the fight of my life?" Blaze Heatnix looks over Sonic with an unimpressed expression. "This world is so pathetic. Ugh!" the maverick is forced to duck to avoid a blue ball of energy.

"Surrender Blaze Heatnix," X readies his X-Buster with another charged shot. "You're already damaged, and I've beaten you before."

Sonic whistles, impressed with X's display of firepower.

"With the help of your friend Zero who's…" Blaze Heatnix notices a bat like figure approaching the scene, and then notices the red figure with blonde hair with it. "No, it can't be!"

"Yo, X!" Zero yells out to his fellow maverick hunter. "Save some for me will ya?"

X smiles, "You were saying?"

"Alright!" Sonic cheers, his confident smirk returning to his face.

"Humph, looks like I won't be able to secure the cylinder after all," Blaze Heatnix juggles the green Chaos Emerald in his hand a couple of times. "But at least I have this."

"That's a Chaos Emerald!" Sonic loses he confident smirk again. He spins into a ball and rushes at the maverick.

Blaze Heatnix leaps into a vertical flight a split-second before Sonic reaches him. X fires his charged shot at him, but misses when he changes direction. A fading orange trail is left in the air as the phoenix maverick flies away. Though he was forced to retreat, for him this battle was a victory.

"Ah, damn it!" Zero curses as he watches the enemy make his escape.

"Shadow!" both Sonic and Rouge utter as they approach the injured hedgehog.

Shadow opens his eyes, "Where is he?"

"Who?" Sonic asks an unintentionally stupid question.

"The pyromaniac bird!" Shadow grabs Sonic by the arm.

"Ow, he got away," Sonic rubs his arm after it is let go of.

Shadow sighs, surprisingly, in relief, "Good, he's mine you understand? I owe him!"

Both Sonic and Rouge sigh, "Same old Shadow."

"Are you going to be okay?" Rouge asks.

"Yeah, just give me a couple of minutes," Shadow tries to move again. He can only get up so much before his muscles protest with pain, "Urk… better make that a couple of hours."

Rouge pats the ebony hedgehog on the head, much to his dislike, "You'll be fine."

"Zero," X greets his best friend by brings up his arm. "I thought you were in jail."

"They let me out on good behavior," Zero brings up his arm too and the two reploids hit their forearms together. It is their version of a high-five.

The Tornado 4 flies overhead. Its wings rotate upwards causing the propellers to face the sky. This allows the airplane to hover like a helicopter, and land like one too. Once it is securely on the ground and the engines fully shut off, Tails hopes out and runs over.

Zero rubs his helmet, "You've been meeting all shorts of characters haven't you?"

X simply shrugs his shoulders.

Angel Island maybe far from the crater, but Knuckles can still feel a lot of Chaos Energy from the direction it is from, and all of it is negative energy. The Master Emerald has stopped glowing and shaking, which means no more negative energy is entering this world. However, there is still a significant amount present, and all of it is at whatever location the odd phenomenon the echidna felt earlier occurred. Knuckles wants to go find where the energy is located, but does not want to leave the Master Emerald, or bring it to anywhere it might be at risk. He looks down at another piece of treasure he found on the island, the yellow Chaos Emerald. Knuckles picks up the Emerald and calmly looks at it. While rare, the Emeralds have been known to end up on Angel Island after their ritualistic scattering.

Blades of grass are gently bent by carefully moving odd shaped and practically invisible appendages. A cybernetic eye, concealed by the cloaking device its owner is using, scans the emerald shrine and all that surrounds it. This visitor to the floating island hides behind some of the native plant life even though he is cloaked. The visitor scans the Master Emerald, which he can barely see, sitting on top of the shrine. His sensors read "error" and are unable to give his any stats on the giant gem. He then scans the yellow Chaos Emerald and a series of four-digit numbers appear on his HUD. Satisfied with the readings, he then scans the echidna holding the Emerald in his hand, Knuckles. The scanner gives him no number reading, but instead tells him the echidna is completely biological. The visitor then moves silently around the plants he was hiding behind and proceeds to sneak up to the emerald shrine. With great care, he begins his ascent up the side of the shrine.

Knuckles sits at the first step of the shrine and listens to the wind. "I wonder what Sonic is doing," he says to no one, though his words are heard.

The echidna often speaks his thoughts out loud when alone on the island. Perhaps, stating he was speaking to no one was incorrect. Perhaps, he is talking to the Master Emerald.

The cloaked visitor gazes upon the Master Emerald with admiration now that he is closer to it. In fact, he is right next to it. Though he finds the large jewel quite impressive, it is not his objective. The objective is in the hand of the echidna. He makes a slight gasping sound when the communicator in his head goes off. The noise from the communicator is only in the visitor's head, but he worries this island's only apparent inhabitant heard the gasp. He quickly and quietly backs up and hides behind the Master Emerald. He looks to see if the echidna heard him. It does not seem that way, since he has not moved from his spot. The visitor gives an internal sigh of relief then answers his communicator, making sure the coming conversation is only heard within the confines of his head. The ability to use a communicator without having to speak out loud is indeed handy for a stealth reploid.

"Sting Chameleon," the voice over the communicator speaks, "where are you?"

"Vile," Sting Chameleon grumbles, "you picked the worst time to call."

"Storm Eagle just informed me that you left the base without permission," Vile's voice sounds rather displeased.

"Calm down," Sting Chameleon looks to see if Knuckles has moved any or not, and sees him still sitting in the same spot. "I'm scouting the surrounding areas."

"That task was giving to Split Mushroom…" Vile begins to state.

"And he's dead now," Sting Chameleon interrupts.

"How did you find out?"

"A dented flying fish told me."

"Wait, you meet up with Jet Stingray?"

"I came across him on my way out. The idiot almost hit my Metal Hawk."

Vile sighs, "Just return to the base."

"Why?" Sting Chameleon asks. Again, he checks on the echidna to make sure he is still in the same spot.

"What do you mean, 'why!'" Vile's outburst over the communicator gives Sting Chameleon a brief migraine.

"Keep your voice down," the lizard maverick complains. "You're giving me a headache. I should have been picked for the scouting mission to begin with. My sensors may not be as detailed as his was, but I can finish the mission just fine."

Vile does not reply right away as he thinks over what Sting Chameleon said. "Fine," he responds, "but do not attack anyone. We don't need any more attention then we already have right now."

"Understood, Sting Chameleon over and out," the maverick turns off his communicator. 'Don't attack anyone, ha! This Vile is weak compared to the others.' He sneaks out from behind the Master Emerald and sees Knuckles still sitting in the same spot. It looks as if his is dosing.

This is his chance to get the Chaos Emerald, and perhaps kill the echidna. This floating island would make a good base after all. He begins to slowly and quietly stalk towards the echidna like the predator he is. Closer and closer, he moves towards his prey until he is right behind him.

Knuckles allows his mind to relax. The island is quiet like it normally is. Only the sound of the leaves rustling in the wind can be heard. An invisible tail silently and slowly rears up behind the echidna. Sting Chameleon stands right over him. He does not utter a sound and positions himself delicately. The maverick is ready for the kill.

"Humph," Knuckles' eyes snap open.

'What?' Sting Chameleon only has time to contemplate that one word before a pair of spiked-shaped knuckles plow into his jaw. The dazing strike forces the maverick to uncloak.

After hitting him in the jaw, Knuckles then grabs and throws the intruder down the steps of the Master Emerald's shrine. Sting Chameleon tumbles all the down the stairs to the base of the shrine. He is quick to spring to his feet and turns to look up at the echidna.

"Nice try, but you can't sneak up on me that easily," Knuckles cracks his knuckles. "Now are you going to tell me who you are and who you work for, or am I going to have to beat it out of you?"

"How did you know?" Sting Chameleon asks. He is stunned that Knuckles detected him so easily.

"How did I know you were there? Simple," Knuckles grins, "I know a guy who can do the same trick."

Sting Chameleon's standard eye narrows.

"I answered your question, now answer mine!" Knuckles demands with a firm stomp of his foot that seems to make area bounce. "Who are you and who do you work for? Is it Eggman? Are you some kind of new Eggman robot here to steal the Master Emerald?"

"My name is Sting Chameleon," the lizard maverick squats, "and that is all you need to know!" He pushes himself off the ground and jumps into the air. He clears the stairs of the shrine is a single leap. While in the air, he fires three green beams, his Chameleon Sting, at Knuckles from his tail.

Knuckles jumps up and dodges the attack. This simple move also allows him to land a punch to the maverick's midsection. Again, he throws the maverick to the ground at the base of the shrine. When he lands, the echidna rushes his enemy and reaches him right as he is getting back up.

"I can't believe how strong he…" Sting Chameleon sees Knuckles rushing at him. "Damn!" is the extent of the reaction he can do before he is assaulted by a barrage of punches. He is sent sliding across the ground with the last hit.

"You're going to have to do better than that if you want to beat me," Knuckles keeps his fists raised up like a professional boxer.

"Good advice," Sting Chameleon's body becomes wavy. "Time to step things up a bit," the maverick's cloaking device blends him into the environment.

"Gone invisible have we?" Knuckles looks and listens carefully for anything out of the ordinary. "Where are you?"

'Time to call for back up,' Sting Chameleon is clinging to a pillar, but knows there is a good chance the echidna will detect him again if he attacks. So a distraction is needed. He sends out a signal to his Metal Hawk hovering underneath the floating island. His custom Metal Hawk has the same box-with-wings design as the others that were used by Repliforce's air fleet, but with a green paint job instead of the standard blue. It also has one extra feature, a cloaking device. The engines start up and the vehicle cloaks before heading off.

Knuckles starts to tap his foot, "I know you're here somewhere! You can't hide forever coward!" He then hears the sound of a jet approaching. "What now?"

Sting Chameleon's Metal Hawk comes out of cloak and opens fire on the echidna with its twin-blasters. Knuckles dives out of the line of fire easily, but then feels his leg in a snake-like grip. He looks down to see Sting Chameleon's tongue wrapped around his leg.

The maverick whips his head around and spins the red echidna around in a circle before repeatedly slamming him into the ground. He then throws him against a pillar, which cracks the ancient structure.

Knuckles glares at Sting Chameleon and does not seem to be really hurt despite being in the pillar. He pops out of the indentation left by the impact and dusts off his shoulders, "Okay, now I'm angry."

"What the hell are you made of?" Sting Chameleon directs his Metal Hawk to fire a missile at his enemy. The missile flies towards its target. Pieces of pillar and rock fly through the air as it hits the mark. As the dust settles, the maverick sees no signs of the echidna. He lets out a victory snicker, but the celebration is premature. A fist with spiked knuckles bursts from the ground beneath him. It connects with his jaw, again. The maverick is lifted into the air for a moment before landing on his back.

"I'll give you one chance to get off my island," Knuckles spits. "I suggest you take it."

The Metal Hawk opens fire with its blasters at Knuckles. He avoids the first barrage of shots, but has to keep moving as the aircraft follows him while shooting. Sting Chameleon gets up and waits for the echidna to get closer. When he does the maverick lashes out with his tongue again.

"Not this time," Knuckles grabs the tongue, "got your… OW!" He is forced to let go when tiny spikes come out of the tongue and stab his hand. Sting Chameleon snickers and opens fire with his Chameleon Sting.

Knuckles blows on his hand as he runs and dodges the shots from the maverick and the aircraft. "Okay, now I'm really angry!" He climbs up a tall pillar as fast as he can. The Metal Hawk fires another missile. He jumps off the pillar before it is destroyed, and takes flight towards the attacking aircraft.

"He can fly too?" Sting Chameleon pounds his tail into the ground in frustration. What was supposed to be an easy kill has turned into a real hassle.

"Let's see how well you do without your toy," Knuckles gets ready to smash the Metal Hawk, but it flies left and cloaks. "Dang!" The Metal Hawk reappears behind him and fires. He drops to the ground to avoid the shots. Again, he finds himself having to run as the aircraft follows him. The shots from the blasters nip at his feet.

Sting Chameleon growls, "This is ridiculous! That runt should be dead by now!" He spots something gleaming and yellow at the top of the shrine. "Wait is that? The Chaos Emerald!" Seizing this opportunity he leaps up to the shrine and grabs the Emerald with his tongue, 'That idiot actually forgot this.'

Knuckles, while still running from the Metal Hawk, spots the maverick at the shrine holding the Chaos Emerald and smacks himself in the head, "Stupid! Of course, he's after the Chaos Emerald!" He then heads for the shrine has fast as his legs can take him, which is quite fast. "That doesn't belong to you!"

"What?" Sting Chameleon moves out of the path of the charging echidna. He feels a tug at his tail.

Knuckles grips the maverick's tail and begins to spin him around by it. "Happy trails!" He flings his opponent towards the approaching Metal Hawk.

Sting Chameleon smirks as the Metal Hawk dips its nose down so that the flat top of it is facing the maverick. He extends out his arms and legs to slow himself down and sticks to his aircraft. The canopy of the aircraft opens and the lizard maverick tosses the Emerald inside. He waves at the flabbergasted echidna, "Thanks for the help, moron!"

Knuckles stands there with his mouth agape as he watches Sting Chameleon hop in the Metal Hawk and fly off, laughing all the way. After the aircraft gains a little distance it cloaks. The island is quiet again except for the breeze. Knuckles smacks his forehead, and the sound echoes through the mountains of Angel Island.

"He may have been strong, but he was a total idiot," Sting Chameleon snickers as he pilots his aircraft back to the base. He receives a call on the Metal Hawk's communicator, not the one in his head. He presses a button as if he was expecting this call.

"Did you get it?" the voice asks in an oddly soft-spoken tone.

"Yeah," Sting Chameleon looks at the Chaos Emerald, "it was right where you said it would be. I had a little trouble getting it, but it worked out in the end."

"Good," the sound of a metal tool being placed on a table is heard, "Blaze Heatnix had the fortune of finding one as well. So we are now ahead of schedule."

"Nice," Sting Chameleon presses a few buttons on the control panel, "I'm heading back now. Vile is starting to get suspicious."

"Vile is of little concern," the voice has now changed to a much deeper and disguised tone, "he will be too busy worrying about the maverick hunters who have arrived on this world. Besides, when his usefulness ends so will his life."

"Maverick hunters?" Sting Chameleon's concerned voice asks over the old COM radio sitting on the table. "What maverick hunters?"

"X and Zero," a figure concealed by the darkness of the room answers.

"What?" Sting Chameleon's voice now sounds angry and stressed.

"Don't fret, there is someone on this world who can aid us in dealing with them," a large metal claw opens and glows briefly. The glow reflects in the visor of The Maverick's helmet.

(To Be Continued…)