With the prisoners free, the group made their way outside the fortress, where they met up with Tails and Chopper, having just landed the Tornado and running to catch up with the others.
"Sonic!" called Tails as he and his chipmunk compadre raced up to the hedgehog. "You made it okay! Is the princess all right?"
"She's standing next to me, isn't she?" Sonic grinned, pointing back to Elise.
Tails smiled a hello, and then glanced over to the boy next to her. "Hm?" he blinked, "Hey wait. Who's that-"
"WAIGH!" Chopper cried, "Look out! It's Thorndyke!"
Tails yelped himself. "You're right! It is him!"
"Stand back! I got him!" Chopper lunged forward, mouth wide open, showing off his two big, and very sharp looking teeth. Chris stepped back, panicked, but before Chopper could bite down on his arm, he was suddenly grabbed in mid-air by Sonic.
"Hold on there, kiddo!" he called, "That's not Thorndyke."
Chopper put away his fierce face and looked confused, "Huh? It's not? But it looks like him!"
"It does," said Sonic, placing him back on his feet, "But if you take a closer look, he's about 6 years younger, and he's not wearing the red uniform either."
Tails and Chopper looked closely. "Hm… I guess you have a point."
Chris rolled his eyes. Just how dense were these creatures? He wished he were home, where animals didn't talk at all. Speaking of which…
"Hey, what happened to that machine?"
Sonic looked over. "Machine?"
"Yeah," said Chris, "That… Dimensional Matter Displacer thing?"
"Ohhhh, that thing!" Sonic simply shrugged, "No worries. I took care of it."
Chris raised an eyebrow. "Took care of it… how?"
"Took care of it as in took care of it." Sonic noticed the still unsure look on the kid's face. He sighed, "It's destroyed. Ka-put. Done for."
Chris' mouth slowly hung open. "De… stroyed?"
"Yes!" Sonic groaned. "Why?"
"Why..?" Chris grabbed his hair, "WHY? I'll tell you why! That Dimensional Matter Displacer was what brought me here to begin with! If it's destroyed, then that means I'm stuck here! I can't go home!"
Sonic whistled. "I see… That IS bad."
"What am I gonna do now?" Chris cried, "I can't stay here! Mom and Dad'll ground me if I'm not home by curfew! I'm not allowed outside my block by myself, let alone outside my world!"
"Calm down," Tails spoke up, "I'll take a look at it and see if I can fix it up."
"You sure that's a good idea, Tails?" said Sonic, "A man-made Chaos Control sounds like trouble. Especially in the hands of Thorndyke. It's better off destroyed."
"But how else will we get this version of Thorndyke back home?" asked Elise.
Chris was miffed. "Could you please stop calling me a version of him?" he grumbled, "I'm not him! We just share the same name, that's all."
"And hair color," added Amy.
"AND face," said Chopper.
Chris sneered, "Knock it off."
"Either way," said Elise, "This young man needs to go home to his rightful world. It's important that we do help him get home."
"Well, a Chaos Control can't be made without a Chaos Emerald," said Tails.
"Yeah," said Sonic, "But Thorndyke took it with him when he escaped."
"One's enough," Tails responded, "As long as Thorndyke doesn't have all seven, he'll be the least of our worries. Maybe you should go see Knuckles. He's an expert at finding gems, after all. I'll stay and see what I can do about this Dimensional Matter Displacer you were talking about."
Chris blinked at the young fox. "You?" he questioned, "But, you're just…"
"A kid?" Chopper sneered, "He HAPPENS to be a kid genius, ya know!"
"It's okay, Chopper," Tails assured, "He didn't. He isn't from around here, remember?"
Chopper narrowed his eyes. "Yeah, I'm sure."
Chris looked from Chopper to the rest of the group. It seemed whenever they looked at him, they were giving uneasy, untrusted looks. Even Elise, who was the one guaranteeing that he intended no harm. Where ever this place was, it was obvious it was one where he was most unwelcome.
And he was pretty sure it had to do with that Dr. Thorndyke…
No! It didn't matter how much he looked like him! He WASN'T him! It was just a coincidence!
"Anyway, Tails, I'll take the Tornado and drop Elise off back to Soleanna," said Sonic, "Then we're heading to Angel Island. I'll leave you to stick around and fix that matter displacer thingy back up."
Tails gave a thumbs-up.
"And I'll help Tails!" Chopper piped in.
Tails grinned. "So long as you don't break anything."
Sonic turned to Chris. "You may as well come with us," he said.
Chris slowly nodded, not sure if Sonic really wanted to help, after hearing the low tone of his voice, and the cold stare he gave.
The plane trip to Soleanna was surprisingly not a long one, but it didn't seem that way to Chris. The Tornado was only a 2 passenger plane, and with four passengers, he was forced to share a seat with Elise. It was awkward enough being squished with a girl, but when that girl was a princess, the awkwardness level was 10 times more, and they couldn't get her home soon enough.
He was relieved when they finally touched ground at Soleanna. Elise was carefully helped out of the plane and into the arms of her worried father. After explaining the situation and who the young boy was, Sonic said his farewells and prepared to head back out. Before leaving, Elise gave Sonic a thank you kiss on the cheek, much to the dismay to both Amy and Chris.
The trip to Angel Island was longer, but as least it was more comfortable for Chris. Without being forced to share a seat with a beautiful girl, he could relax and enjoy the ride. He had never ridden on a bi-plane before, and it was an exhilarating experience, having the wind in his face and getting a better view of the land far below him. He could never get this sort of thrill from any of his parents' private jets. He made a mental note to look into flying lessons once he would return home.
"Oh no!" Amy cried from the top wing of the plane, "Sonic, look!"
Sonic craned his neck forward to see what Amy was pointing at. "Uh oh!" he cried, "This isn't good!"
"What?" asked Chris as he leaned forward to get a better look himself, "What's wrong?"
Sonic pointed to a large island, sitting in the ocean. "That's what's wrong! Angel Island's in the ocean!"
"So?" said Chris, "Isn't that where all islands are?"
The hedgehog shook his head, "Not Angel Island," he responded, "It's supposed to be in the sky!"
"The sky..?" Chris thought that over. That didn't make any sense. Then again neither did talking hedgehogs that could fly planes. "Okay, if you say so…"
"Knuckles!" Sonic called as he, Amy, and Chris voyaged through the empty fields in search of their friend.
"So this Knuckles guy," said Chris, "He a talking hedgehog too?"
"No," said Amy.
Chris sighed. Finally, a normal human-
Sonic pushed aside the long branches, finally coming to a clearing. In front of the group stood a tall stone altar. Chris rubbed his eyes. He couldn't believe what he saw! He only read about temples and shrines in school text books. He never actually saw one up close and personal. "It's beautiful…"
"Yeah," muttered Sonic, "Only it's missing something."
"Missing something? What?"
"You should know! You're the one that stole it!"
Chris turned to where the voice rang out. Before he could get a good look at who spoke to him, the creature had already socked him in the side of the face, knocking the boy to the ground. Chris was shocked with pain. What was that?
He felt the collar of his shirt being grabbed and found himself being turned around to be face to face with an angry red echidna. "Returning to the scene of the crime, are you?" the creature snarled, "That wasn't very smart. Now give back the Master Emerald or else!"
The echidna raised his fist. "Don't play dumb with me!"
The fist was suddenly grabbed on. "Hold on, Knucklebrain! Don't hit him!"
The echidna, who Chris assumed was this "Knuckles" person, turned his head to Sonic, who was holding his fist back and snarled once more. "And the conspiracy just keeps growing. I never thought of you as my buddy, Sonic, but to completely betray my trust and work with the enemy?"
He pulled his arm away and reeled back the other, aiming to land a punch on Sonic, but the hedgehog was already out of the way. Knuckles chased him around, and Sonic leaped to the air and tried to land a kick to his head, but Knuckles blocked with a fist. They jumped back, and went to strike each other once more, when Amy appeared suddenly between the two. The two skidded to a halt before either one could land a hit on her accidentally.
"Knock it off already!" she yelled, swinging her hammer.
"Why should I?" growled Knuckles, "When you and your boyfriend are plotting against me and planning to take over the world?"
Sonic rubbed his head. "That's not the case, Knucklebutt," he muttered, "Why do you always jump to conclusions?"
"Jump to conclusions?" Knuckles shouted and pointed at Chris, "Thorndyke's right there!"
"Not the same Thorndyke," Sonic replied casually, placing his arms behind his head.
"I'm NOT Thorndyke," Chris grumbled, "I mean, I AM Chris Thorndyke, but I'm no megalomaniac doctor. We just have the same name."
"Keep telling yourself that," said Sonic as he rubbed his nose.
Knuckles brought down his battle stance, but kept a cautious eye on the boy. "You say it's not THE Thorndyke we know?" he said.
"Nope," said Sonic, "It's okay, though, we made the same mistake too."
Knuckles narrowed his eyes at the hedgehog. "Okay, say I believe you and he's not the enemy," he said, "What brings you all to Angel Island anyway?"
"We need your help looking for the Chaos Emeralds," said Amy.
Knuckles shook his head. "No can do," he replied, "Thorndyke was here not too long ago. He had one of his massive robots arrive, caught me off guard. I managed to fight them off, but while doing so, he and his henchbots made off with the Master Emerald. The next thing I knew, Angel Island's crashing landing in the ocean."
"What does he want with the Master Emerald?" Amy wondered.
"Whatever it is, it can't be a good reason," said Knuckles. "I have to find him and get it back."
"Well, we're behind you 100 percent!" Sonic gave a thumbs-up.
Knuckles couldn't help but smile appreciatively. "Thanks," he said, then looked over to Chris and the smile faded, "But... you sure we can trust him?"
Here we go again. Just when he thought he was making progress with these strangers, Chris once again felt like a large elephant in a small room. Sonic seemed to have trusted him, he figured he might defend him.
Was he crushed when Sonic's answer was a sullen, "Don't have much of a choice."
"Hey Tails, what does this button do?"
"Don't touch that!"
Chopper jumped back, and then put a finger to his mouth, looking apologetic. Tails sighed. He knew the little chipmunk just wanted to help, but he could be such a hindrance. Typical little brother behavior.
Tails had managed to build the basic structure back to the Dimensional Matter Displacer, and after Chopper accidently knocked a piece out and toppled the whole thing before, it was finally ready for inside work.
"So how does it work?" asked Chopper, peeking in.
"Like Thorndyke said, it's like a man-made Chaos Control," Tails answered, "But we can't figure out how to activate one without a Chaos Emerald. Once I get all the interior schematics up and running, we'll get one to test."
"Oh." Chopper raised his head at the sound of an engine. "Hey, is that the Tornado?"
Tails perked his ears and looked up himself. "Sounds like it," he said, "But they couldn't be back already…"
The two got up and took a look to the sky, watching to see if any bi-plane would come out through the clouds.
Something did fly out from the clouds. Unfortunately it wasn't the Tornado. It was Thorndyke's air fortress.