Sonic stretched his muscles as he walked across the dirt arena. He'd talked to the other members of the Vanguard and found out about how his father fought. He assumed that they had only seen a fraction of what he could do but any advantage was better than none. What he'd found out was that Mjölnir was a weapon he could form out of thin air and Sunder was a Magi artifact that he'd proven capable of wielding. Fighting with both meant that he took his opponent seriously, something that apparently hadn't happened before. He also knew his father was quick on his feet and even faster with the bow. He knew the bow could change on command but he didn't know into what.
[Do you honestly think you can beat him?] Sylvanix asked, breaking Sonic's concentration.
I'm not about to give up before trying, if that's what you mean, Sonic replied, still keeping an eye on his old man.
[Eric has years of combat experience on you and I mean real combat, not running between SWATbots and making them shoot each other,] the Magi informed him. [He's also far more familiar with his Guardian abilities than you are. If he were to use his Guardian form...]
I've got a few surprises of my own, Sonic reminded the Magi. Now shut up and let me think. The Magi snorted but did as he was asked. Sonic caught the end of the Xenodonian Anthem, his father twirling the hammers as the music died down. "So much for that idea," Sonic muttered as he formed a longsword in each hand. He and his father charged each other, trading blows from the first swing.
Eric swung Mjölnir and Sunder with deadly efficiency, using the momentum of one to swing the other. Sonic took special care to avoid blocking Mjölnir but blocking Sunder only threw him back. "C'mon, kid!" Eric taunted as he swung again. "I know you've got better than that!"
"How about neither of us hold back?" Sonic asked as he locked a blade with Sunder. "Your little hammers are cute but I know you can do better, old man." Eric pushed Sonic back and brought Mjölnir crashing into the ground. The air around it crackled as bolts of lightning erupted from the ground. Sonic barely managed to dodge as Eric turned his attention away from him and to the landscape around them. Sunder would send up chunks of earth and Mjölnir would pulverize them, turning them into mini bullets. Even as he made the bullets larger Sonic somehow just shrugged them off like it was nothing.
"You'll have to teach me how to do that, kiddo," Eric said as Sonic came at him. What the younger hedgehog lacked in power he more than made up for in speed but was still unable to touch his father. "I gotta say, if I didn't know better then I'd say this is all you've got. And it ain't enough!" Eric parried his blows before slamming both hammers together, sending crippling soundwaves through the air. Sonic had his hands to his ears when both of his swords disappeared into dust.
"Cute," he said in a pained voice. "Real cute. Guess I should've known toothpicks like those wouldn't hold up." He drew Kaiyō Mujō and reversed his grip. "I'm still waiting for you to stop playing around, old man. When you take this seriously then so will I."
"Maybe I'm just waiting for you," Eric said, swinging both hammers around before banging them together again. Instead of cringing Sonic came at him faster than his father expected. Once more what his attacks lacked in power he made up for in speed which was now approaching the limit of what Eric believed was possible. Most of the attacks glanced off of either hammer but Eric wasn't able to get in a counter. When he finally did manage Sonic slipped between the hammers, driving his knee into his father's chest and knocking the wind out of him. Eric dropped to a single knee as he struggled to breathe.
Where the hell did that come from? he thought, holding a hand to his chest as Sonic patiently waited. It felt like I was just run over by a train.
"Tired of waiting now, dad?" Sonic mocked him and Eric grimaced, standing once more.
"You really aren't kidding about holding back," he admitted, his voice rasping. "I'll take you serious on one condition: you show me what that little sword of yours can really do."
"Consider it a deal," Sonic agreed. Eric smiled as he fed his power into the hammers. A sphere of lightning formed around him before rapidly expanding, dissipating harmlessly just as it passed Sonic. "I thought I said no holding back," he mocked, well aware of his father's increased presence.
"How's this for 'holding back'?" Eric asked, kicking off the ground. His speed was significantly increased, catching Sonic off-guard initially. Eric took advantage of the momentary weakness to swing but once again Sonic slipped past the hammers, only this time when he went for the kick Eric jumped back and kept moving around him. "C'mon son, this speed shouldn't be a problem for you. I think you'd call it 'low gear'."
Sonic cringed at the unintended insult. He had yet to tell anyone besides Mina and Fiona that he'd lost his speed, though only Fiona knew he had replaced it with something faster. Instead of replying Sonic held Kaiyō Mujō against his forearm. "I don't need speed to beat you, old man," he replied as he began to glow. "Vanish into the night sky, Kaiyō Mujō!" With that he spun in place, an aqua wave extending from his arm in a complete circle, forcing his father to stop and block. When he stopped the sword had formed the gauntlet on his hand but the blade kept short.
"What is that thing?" Eric asked laughing. "If you think something like that can beat me then you are seriously deluded."
"Size ain't everything," Sonic replied as he ran towards his father. As expected Eric swung the hammers but unlike before Sonic blocked Mjölnir with Kaiyō Mujō and caught Sunder with his left hand, much to his father's shock. He could hear the crowd gasp in shock at the scene and Eric's expression was well worth the pain he was in. "Like I said, size ain't everything."
"Damned crazy fool," his father said with a smirk before his face turned serious. "Word of warning, don't use your Guardian form if you can help it." Sonic raised an eyebrow. "I've done my best to make sure that no one knows the full extent of our abilities. If certain members of the Senate were to learn just how strong we are they'd use us to further their own schemes."
"Thanks for the heads up," Sonic thanked him. "So tell me how you're masking yours right now."
"Oh come on," Eric said with another smirk. "You said no holding back and this is the only way I've got. What about you and that dinky thing? That's not exactly going all out."
"Don't underestimate us," Sonic said as Kaiyō Mujō glowed. With a push Sonic sliced clean through Mjölnir, much to his father's shock. The destroyed weapon began to glow as both hedgehogs jumped back. The hammer exploded in a wave of lightning missing Eric entirely but barely catching Sonic, leaving his quills smoking but unharmed.
"You can cut through my hammers," Eric said, understanding what Sonic had said a little clearer. "I'm not risking Sunder that way." He tossed the hammer to the side where it fell with a heavy thud. He pulled Sagittarius out, the glyph on the guard flashing briefly as armor extended up his arm and face. "Seems Sagittarius wants to show what it can do too." He pulled back and fired three arrows together to prove his point, giving Sonic no time to dodge them. The first arrow caused him to turn into a cloud of mist much to the surprise of everyone in the Coliseum. The mist reformed as Sonic once the last arrow passed through and he smiled. "What the hell?" Eric asked as he began to lower Sagittarius.
"Don't drop your guard," Sonic said from behind him. Eric turned to block one attack only to feel another slam into his side. As he was tossed he saw all three Sonics come at him. He landed on his feet just to feel a searing pain in his back. There were two more Sonics now making for five that he could see. He fired at all five and by the time the last one vaporized the first had reformed, quickly followed by the other four.
"Seriously unfair," Eric said as all of the Sonic's stood around him, all of their Kaiyō Mujōs glowing as they brought them up. "Oh sh-"
On the complete opposite side of the arena the actual Sonic was crouched, wrapping the wind around in such a way that he was invisible. He wasn't worried if his father fired a stray shot towards him as the barrier was more than capable of stopping it. He had only seen the abilities of Sagittarius through Kuroc's eyes and this seemed to be the best way to take its measure as well as how his father fought using it.
"This is either ingenious or cheating," Sylvanix said, appearing next to Sonic.
"My Mist Clones will only fool him for so long," Sonic admitted quietly. "That and the longer I have them out the more they take out of me."
"Color me impressed," the Magi said. "So what's your plan?"
"See how he fights then wear him down," Sonic explained. "I know that he has more than this but I want him to understand that I'm not playing around."
"Right, this coming from the guy hiding in a corner and not even using his Hollow abilities to fight a battle that he likely won't win anyway. What's the point of all this?"
"I've already proven my worth," Sonic explained. "This fight is just for show."
After several minutes fighting off the clones Eric leapt into the air before swinging around to aim at the ground. "Heaven's Thunder!" he growled and fired. The area he'd fired at lit up as a column of lightning consumed all five clones, vaporizing them entirely. "How the hell is he doing this?" he asked as he landed. He looked around, trying to figure out where Sonic was hiding. "Screw this. Sagittarius, activate Devastator Mode!" The glyph on the guard glowed briefly before the bow grew in size, gaining several spikes and gears as it did while retracting the armor over his arms and head. Eric closed his eyes, trying to filter out the crowd's electrical energy. That's when he saw it, a faint pulse on the other side of the arena crouched by the shield. "Found you, you little bastard," he said and fired a shot towards it. The arrow hit the barrier and erupted in an explosion of fire and lightning. Sonic became visible in midair before coming to a skidding halt on his feet.
"Was wondering when you'd catch on," Sonic said, taking a moment to catch his breath. "If you'd taken any longer my legs would've fallen asleep."
"Neat trick," Eric said, narrowing his eyes. "Was there a purpose to that little charade?"
"Just seeing what you're made of," Sonic said as he held Kaiyō Mujō up. "Nice bow. I take it you're not playing games anymore." Eric said nothing and fired another shot at his son who dodged, the explosion barely missing him. When Sonic regained his balance he charged his father who fired two more shots that Sonic easily slipped past. He and his father clashed, Sonic slowly gaining the upper hand as Kaiyō Mujō ground into Sagittarius. He smirked as Kaiyō Mujō glowed briefly and then there was a spray of blood. Eric pushed Sonic back, holding his shoulder where the blade had extended.
"Damn it, didn't see that coming," Eric grimaced as small bolts of lightning cauterized the wound. "So you can change your sword's length. Once again, neat trick."
"In this form it's only one of two lengths," Sonic admitted, flicking his wrist to clean Kaiyō Mujō. "So no more surprises from me. How about you?"
"One or two more I'd say," Eric said with a smirk as he took aim at Sonic. "Devastator Barrage." He let the arrow fly and it began to multiply in the few seconds it was in the air. Sonic sped forward as the arrows passed him, erupting in a cascade of explosions behind him. Sonic jumped and flipped, striking Sagittarius with immense strength, enough to almost bring his father to his knees.
"How did you get this strong?" Eric asked as he struggled. "Even with your Guardian form you shouldn't be able to do this."
"How's this then?" Sonic replied as a wave formed around Kaiyō Mujō and he fired it around Sagittarius. Eric held his ground as the wave hit him, covering him in a fine mist. Sonic broke off his attack and clawed down saying, "Onikiba!" It was then that Eric felt each of the water droplets tear into him like they were knives. He dropped to one knee as rivulets of blood ran down his arms and chest like sweat. It wasn't a lethal attack by any means but that didn't mean it didn't hurt like hell.
I'll never hit him with Devastator, Eric realized as his grip tightened. It's been a while but I think I can still use it. He closed his eyes, focusing on the power of Sagittarius and the glyph on the bow began pulsing. Eric calmly opened his eyes and said, "Sagittarius, activate Hunter-Killer!" The bow began to brightly glow enough that Sonic needed to cover his eyes. When he could see again the bow had shrunk considerably, now just a steel-gray shaft and drawstring no longer than two feet.
"And something tells me I should be worried," Sonic muttered as he gathered his spiritual power.
"What's 'Hunter-Killer'?" Tails asked as he intently watched the fight.
"It's Eric's strongest form with Sagittarius," Alura explained. "You've seen what Devastator Mode can do. All that destructive force is now converted into speed."
"That's insane," Rotor said, turning to her. "You can't physically compress that kind of power into a single shot. It would hit with enough force to blow a hole in someone."
"Add to it that no one has ever dodged it," a voice said behind them. They turned to face it, seeing a clean shaven man in a suit with salt-and-pepper hair. On either side of him were men in black suits with matching sunglasses and earpieces. Alura gave a small bow while Violet just waved.
"Mr. President, it's good to see you again," Alura addressed President Todd McElroy. "How's your wife doing?"
"Susan's good," he replied with a smile. "Still wondering when you're going to send her that meatloaf recipe."
"Everyone, this is Xenodonian President Todd McElroy," Alura said to the others. "I don't think I've ever seen you at a Tournament before."
"Seeing as it's your husband and son I thought it would be appropriate," the President replied, walking to the window. "This is the first time I've seen him use Hunter-Killer since his fight with Arias and even he couldn't dodge it."
"Do you think Sonic can?" Antoine asked, raising an eyebrow as he watched the two hedgehogs circle each other.
"Given his moniker, I'd say so," the President said. "I'm looking forward to this."
"Hunter-Killer, eh?" Sonic asked. "Pretty ominous name for such a small form. What exactly can it do?"
"Tell you what, why don't you try catching this next shot?" Eric challenged him as he drew back. An arrow formed on the drawstring and the elder hedgehog just smiled. Sonic knew better than to believe for a moment that this was a good thing. Eric released and Sonic felt more than heard as the arrow broke the sound barrier. Most people could never have dodged an attack like that.
Good thing Sonic wasn't most people.
Eric watched as the arrow closed in on Sonic before his son simply vanished, the arrow leaving a massive gouge in the ground. He lowered Sagittarius just in time to see Sonic reappear and disappear twice more before grabbing Eric's head and slamming it into the ground. Eric leapt back up almost immediately but Sonic was already gone. His hand arced with lightning as he pulled back again, trying to follow his son's movements.
How in the hell did he get this fast? Eric thought as he looked around. No one can move like this, not even me on my best day. He saw Sonic out of the corner of his eye and released some of the energy he'd been building up but Sonic dodged each shot like they were barely moving. Pretty soon Eric started seeing afterimages of Sonic running around him. "That's not even possible," he said as he looked around. "Just what is this?"
"This? This is low gear, old man," Sonic taunted him as he began firing ryūkais at his father. Eric had only moments between each one, barely dodging or blocking them before Sonic came at him directly. The force that he hit with was immense from the built up momentum, a single strike pushing him back against the wall. Growling, Eric pulled on the drawstring again, charging the newly formed arrow.
"Hunter's Barrage," he said and fired. Like before it began to multiply but each of the arrows formed simultaneously, ripping apart the ground as they hit. Eric fired another Barrage and another after that, knowing that somehow he'd hit Sonic. And yet Sonic somehow ended up behind him with Kaiyō Mujō drawn across his back.
"Still not fast enough, old man," he said with a smirk as Kaiyō Mujō began to glow.
From the viewing booth all they could see were a series of explosions and then Sonic behind Eric followed by another explosion.
"They're just so fast!" Amy exclaimed as the dust began to settle on the field. "When did Sonic learn to do that?"
"And how did he dodge those arrows?" Alura asked in shock. "It shouldn't be physically possible, not while Eric's in Hunter-Killer."
"Regardless, it's still impressive," President McElroy admitted. "I don't think I've ever seen raw talent like that, not since Eric took on Petra." They continued to watch as Eric and Sonic became visible, Eric covered in wounds while Sonic was relatively unharmed.
"I'm getting real sick of this crap," Eric said, gripping Sagittarius tightly, the glyph on the guard pulsing with power as he poured his strength into it. "I keep pushing and pushing and pushing and it's never enough. Well that ends right now. I'm going to show you exactly why I have never allowed myself to be beaten." The air around Eric lit up as bolts of lightning arced from him and bouncing off the barrier. With one last pulse the glyph on the bow vanished only to reappear on his chest and it pulsed again. "Sagittarius, unleash Zodiac."
With that Eric's body flashed as crimson plate armor formed over him with the glyph glowing neon orange on his chest but the bow remained unchanged. Every so often bolts of lightning arced off of him while he stared down his son.
"Seems like this fight can really get started," Sonic said, holding Kaiyō Mujō up as Eric brought Sagittarius into the ready position. Sonic barely missed his father pulling the drawstring let alone the shot as it slammed into him and exploded, sending a wave of dust and earth in a cone behind him.
Eric watched as lightning flashed in the dust cloud. He didn't fully understand this new form nor did he know its limits but Sagittarius seemed to know just how far they could be pushed. "I know you're not done for, Sonic," Eric yelled as he charged another shot. "I've seen some of the things you can do and this shouldn't even slow you down. So how about you come out and show me what you've got, considering you were the one talking about not holding anything back."
"Be careful what you wish for, dad," Sonic yelled back. The dust was beginning to clear and Eric could see a silhouette of Sonic. But something was wrong. The blade on his right arm was now enormous, stretching out behind him as well as in front. And unless he was seeing things there was an identical blade on his left arm. All this in addition to the chill Eric felt running down his spine. He had felt something like this before and it wasn't a pleasant memory. In response he fired another shot that was immediately deflected upward but still managed to clear the dust.
Eric did a double-take of what he was seeing. He hadn't been imagining Kaiyō Mujō's change but Sonic had changed as well. His quills were tipped with white and matching stripes ran down his body. And while his eyes weren't visible with his head bent down his left arm was. The gauntlet was bone-white with glowing red markings while the blade itself was identical to his right arm but the cutting edge was black and the back white. As Sonic lowered his arm he opened his eyes, staring down his father with black and green eyes.
"You have got to be kidding me," Eric said as he gripped his bow tightly. "What the hell are you thinking?!" Sonic smirked, sending chills down his father's spine.
"I'm thinking I just evened the playing field," Sonic replied as he crouched down. He leapt at his father, kicking up large pieces of earth as he did and with both blades crossed in front of him. He slashed out with one that Eric blocked with Sagittarius and then the other strike he blocked using his armored hand. He could feel the power behind each blow as they pushed him back and as Sonic struck repeatedly. Eric growled and Sagittarius began to glow in response, placing a straight punch with his bow hand into Sonic's chest the moment he had an opening. It bought him time as it threw Sonic back but with a simple flip he was back on his feet and two aqua waves wrapping around him.
"Ryūkai tsume!" he yelled and both waves spiraled towards Eric. Another shot from Sagittarius cancelled out both attacks only for Sonic to fire off two more from Eric's left. Eric blocked them, feeling their increased power and speed.
"You honestly think that a little boost will do you any good?" Eric taunted as he easily blasted the ryūkais out of the sky. "I'll tell you right now that it's not going to be enough."
"I've changed a lot since I was just some kid fighting against Robotnik," Sonic replied as he came skidding to a halt, "and I've learned a lot in that time." His eyes scanned his father as he drew the bow again. "I can tell by how you handle that thing that this form is new to you, new enough that you don't know how far you can push it. Your shots are half-assed but not so much as to not have any effect. I, on the other hand, know how to handle this form. You don't stand a chance, not when your hands are shaking like that." Eric looked at his hands which were indeed shaking.
"So maybe you're right," he said. "But I still have one last trick up my sleeve. And your little speech has given me the time I need to charge it. We're ending this fight, boy. And I'm winning it." Currents of yellow lightning wrapped the shaft of the arrow as the tail extended behind him. Sonic replied in kind as dark blue ribbons of energy wrapped around his arms. He brought his hands up as Eric tensed his arm.
A wave of blue tore the ground apart in front of Sonic while an enormous gold arrow blazed in front of Eric. The arrow tore through multiple sound barriers before slamming into Sonic's attack, causing an eruption that threw both of them back. It took several minutes for the dust to clear but when it did Sonic and Eric were both still standing but obviously drained.
"Not...what I was expecting," Eric panted.
"I'll give you credit, old man," Sonic replied as his body returned to normal, the second Kaiyō Mujō disappearing as well. "I honestly didn't think either of us would still be standing after that."
"And yet here we are, the fight still going on," his father said. "Your form is gone and I still have mine. You still so sure you can win?"
"Don't get cocky, dad," Sonic said. "You haven't seen...everything...I can..." His voice trailed off as he looked towards the sky. Eric only glanced up, assuming that it was a diversion tactic until he saw over a dozen winged creatures coming towards them.
"What the hell are those?" Eric asked as they got close enough to see. Sonic's eyes were wide with fear and recollection as he saw the three-headed beasts pass through the barriers to land on the ground, their dragon-head tails growling at them.