The Friendship Express emerged from a portal onto the train tracks leading to Canterlot, its passengers all securely on board. The portal disappeared after the caboose had come through the Flicky Island end and was on the tracks with the rest of the train, which moved at about the same speed it had when it left the station in Ponyville. Although Fluttershy had told Rainbow Dash that the train stopped on its own when it arrived in the Diamond Dust Zone and neither Tails nor Pinkie Pie had found anything unusual when they were getting it ready, everyone had agreed that they didn't want to chance a repeat of what had happened earlier so soon.
Everyone remained standing where they had been when they were seeing the Flickies off, Tails, Pinkie, Twilight, Shining Armor, Princess Cadance, and Applejack up front in the engine while Sonic, Spike, Fluttershy, Rainbow Dash, and Rarity were in the adjacent car ready to help when needed. Sonic, who was leaning with his back against the wall next to the open door to the engine, called, "How're we looking, Tails?"
Tails, who was looking down at his radar while Pinkie piloted the train, called back after a moment, "The train itself seems to be fine, but it looks like that little detour set us back a bit. According to my map, we're close to where we stopped initially."
Shining Armor asked, "Do you have any idea where we even went to end up on Flicky Island, Tails?"
The fox looked up and shook his head, "No. I'm assuming those magically-created tracks branched off from the Canterlot route and we just didn't notice due to the way the train was acting. At least that's my theory; I've calibrated my radar several times now, but I can't pick up any traces of magic or the portal we traveled through."
Twilight asked, "So whoever is controlling that creature specifically did all that just to slow us down and made it all disappear once we were out?"
Tails replied, "It seems that way." Stealing another glance down at his radar, he added, "It looks like even the portal we used to get back here has closed up without a trace."
Cadance asked, "Do you think there's anything we should do differently, Tails?"
The two-tailed fox scratched the back of his head with his right hand, "I'm not sure there's much we could do differently at this point, Cadance."
Rainbow, who was lying down next to the other side of the door, spoke up, "I'll tell you what we could do differently! We could forget about taking the train to Canterlot since we can't avoid anything that shows up right in front of us and me and Sonic just take everypony to Canterlot ourselves! We'd be much faster and we'd be able to avoid any portals opening up way better than this train can!"
Sonic looked over at her and asked, "So you think we should just strand the train here while you and I run everyone to Canterlot one at a time?" He rolled his eyes, "Yeah, that sounds like a REAL efficient use of our time and energy, Dash."
Rainbow climbed to her hooves and retorted, "I don't hear YOU coming up with any ideas, Sonic!"
The blue hedgehog replied, "Yeah, because I can't think of anything that would be better than what we're doing right now. We're going slower than I would normally prefer, yes, but at this point, this train is probably the best way for us to get to Canterlot."
Rainbow argued, "We're not far from Ponyville! You and I could go back and get one of those carts from Sweet Apple Acres and pile everypony in it! You can then pull it and I'll fly above you and keep watch so that nothing weird happens!"
Applejack, having heard enough of this argument, stuck her head through the doorway and asked, "And what if somethin' unexpected happens when y'all are doin' that anyway, Rainbow Dash? Even if Sonic's pullin' a cart filled with ponies, ain't no guarantee he's gonna be able to stop on a bit if a portal opens up in front o' him. And if one opens up in front of you, how are you gonna be able to stop in time if you're flyin'? Ah don't like not gettin' ta Canterlot right away either, but Ah gotta agree that this is the best thing right now. At least with the train, we have somethin' safe ta come back to when we come across these portals."
Rarity nodded, "Oh yes, I much rather prefer having a safe train to come back to, with its carpeted floors and seats, to having to rest on ground that is so white that one can hardly tell what is on it. I'm certain Fluttershy agrees with me." The shy pegasus gave an almost imperceptible nod at Rarity's words.
Rainbow fell back on her haunches, groaning, "All right, fine, I get it! Until we can figure something else out, we'll keep riding the train! I just wish it could get us to Canterlot right now!"
Tails spoke up, "Believe me, Rainbow Dash, we all do. Right now, though, we need to be patient and stay alert. At this point, there's no telling when something could happen."
Almost immediately, as if on cue, a nearly invisible wave suddenly passed over the train, causing it to shake and forced it to slow to a stop on its own and Tails' radar started to go wild. Sonic, Spike, Rainbow Dash, Rarity, and Fluttershy moved to the engine, everybody standing alert while Tails checked his radar. As they all stood in the engine, Sonic commented, "I hate when that happens."
Twilight looked at Tails and asked, "Tails, what's going on?!"
While still looking down at his radar, the fox answered, "Some kind of distorted time wave! It doesn't look like anything we've seen so far! If I'm looking at this right, this is really bad…"
Applejack spoke, "Uh, ain't time already distorted, Tails? What makes this wave thingy so different from what's happened to yer world and Equestria?"
Tails looked up and said, "I think there are certain points in history that are helping to maintain the stability of this white world and everything in it. You know, there are a lot of significant events that have happened in your world. T-The rise of Nightmare Moon, the founding of Equestria, that whole thing with the changelings… It's kind of hard to explain, but those are some examples of important moments that make up everything we know."
Fluttershy meekly wondered, "Um, how important are these important moments, Tails?"
Sonic spoke up, "I think he's saying they're so important that, if anything majorly bad were to happen to them, we'd all be in danger of being erased, Fluttershy." He looked at Tails and asked, "Is that what you mean, Tails?"
Tails shrugged, "Yeah, basically. Right now, the fact that these moments in time still exist are the main things that are holding this white world together. If anything happens to even one of them, this whole world and everything in it could cease to exist!"
Rarity gasped dramatically, "What?!"
Twilight asked, "But if that creature is responsible for this, wouldn't it be erased as well?"
Tails was about to answer when Pinkie Pie butted in, "Don't be silly, Twilight! That big mean monster put us all in this world, so it has to know what will happen to everything in it! That's why it's in Canterlot: so it'll be safe when the rest of us disappear!"
Tails looked back at her for a moment before saying, "Uh, I don't know about Canterlot being a safer place right now, Pinkie, but I will agree that it has to be somewhere where it and whoever's controlling it won't be affected by the reality shift."
Spike asked, "Reality shift?"
Tails looked down at him and said, "Well, maybe. I mean, if something didn't happen that was supposed to happen, that would have a huge impact on everything that's supposed to follow."
Sonic nodded, "Yeah. What if Celestia and Luna didn't stop Discord, or if they didn't discover the Elements of Harmony in the first place? No doubt Equestria would've become a very different place than it is today."
Rainbow Dash leapt up, flapping her wings as she exclaimed, "That's it! This train isn't going to cut it anymore! Now we definitely need to get to Canterlot right away and stop this thing before it messes things up any more!"
Tails looked up at her and said, "No, I don't think so, Rainbow Dash. We are NOT abandoning this train and we do NOT need to get to Canterlot right away."
Rainbow protested, "But you just said that time and everything we know are in serious danger right now! The only way to stop it all is to do something about that monster, right?!"
Tails shook his head, "Not necessarily." Looking back down at his radar, he began to fiddle with it as he explained, "We have no idea what the situation in Canterlot is and this is a more urgent matter. Something is specifically out of place in a particularly important point in time. If we don't do something about this, there might not BE a Canterlot to get to!"
Princess Cadance asked, "What are you doing, Tails?"
The fox answered, "I'm trying to locate the source of that distorted time wave with my radar. It had to originate from somewhere; if I can get a lock on it, we should be able to use the Warp Ring to go straight to the source of the disturbance and correct it."
Shining Armor thought to himself, "All this time traveling and setting right what's going wrong… Gaffer would go nuts if I told him about all of this. He always seemed like he was into this kind of thing. I wonder what he's up to nowadays, come to think of it. Poindexter and 8-Bit said he was hanging out with some weird pony during the Fall Formal Gala, but…"
The stallion was jerked out of his thoughts when a beeping sound came from Tails' radar. He looked towards the fox as Fluttershy murmured, "Is… that a good sound, Tails?"
Tails, who was already retrieving the Warp Ring from his right tail, replied, "Yeah, it is, Fluttershy. Don't worry; that sound is just my radar telling me that it's located where that time wave originated from. Like I said, now we can just use the Warp Ring to get to its location."
Sonic smiled and held his right thumb up, "Leave it to you, Tails! Got any idea where we're heading?"
As he held up the Warp Ring in his right hand, the fox replied, "All my radar is showing is a collection of numbers; it's not actually showing the exact location of the origin. However, if my hunch is correct…"
The Warp Ring deposited the group onto what felt like metallic ground, everybody standing up straight seconds after landing. Looking around, they saw that they were standing in what appeared to be a metallic, futuristic park. While the ground they were standing on made up a bright blue metallic structure that seemed to go on for quite a while, it seemed as though it was being overtaken by nature, as there were miles of trees off in the distance and the bright blue sky was clearly visible from where they were standing, along with mechanical palace-like structures beyond the trees. Nearby, they could see fountains, mechanical plants, and animals playing without a care in the world. Truly, it was a paradise that was found.
Fluttershy gasped, "Oh my… This is… so beautiful!"
Rarity nodded, "It's absolutely gorgeous, darling!" She looked at Sonic, "Do you know where we are, Sonic?"
The blue hedgehog thought for a moment before replying, "Yeah. I'm pretty sure this is Eggman's old base on the Little Planet."
Twilight gawked and looked at Sonic at this. "Dr. Eggman's base looked like THIS?!" she exclaimed.
Sonic looked back at her and shrugged, "Well, it WAS Eggman's base at one point. This is probably what it became after I recovered the Time Stones and sent him packing. I might've run through it on my way to reach him after I got the two Time Stones he had back, I don't know. I was too focused on getting him off the planet to pay much attention to where I was." Looking back at the area, he added, "I can guarantee, though, that the other future wouldn't look anywhere near as pretty as this does."
Twilight nodded in thought and turned to look around as well. "So we're in the Little Planet's future? Amazing…" she murmured.
Spike heard her and nodded, "Yeah. I can kind of see what Silver meant now."
Shining Armor spoke up, "Whoa, whoa, hold on now! What's all this talk about a 'Little Planet' and 'Time Stones'? Did I miss something?"
Tails, who was looking down at the readings being displayed on the top screen of his radar, made a mental note of the sequence of numbers displayed on the bottom screen (11191993) before saying, "Sort of, but you and Princess Cadance weren't around for when the matter came up earlier. The Little Planet is basically a natural satellite that's home to the Time Stones. It shows up over Never Lake for one month every year and does not appear again for the rest of the year, possibly because of the power of the Time Stones. It's been involved with some of Eggman's schemes; in those instances, he used a large chain to pull it closer to the surface of our planet."
Pinkie piped up, "Ooh! Like when Princess Celestia and Princess Luna used their magic and a rope to pull the Moon closer to Equestria! It was fun walking up that rope to the Moon!"
Applejack muttered to herself, "Fer you, maybe."
Rainbow looked at Sonic and asked, "Didn't you say Eggman built a new Death Egg around the Little Planet one time?"
Sonic nodded, "Yeah." He then looked up at the sky and, while squinting, said, "Though it doesn't look like this is at that point in time. I think it'd be kind of hard to miss a giant sphere surrounding a small planet, even from the inside."
Cadance tapped her right forehoof on her chin as she glanced upwards. "I would think so too," she said after a moment. As the group started walking through the futuristic park, she looked at Tails and asked, "Are you sure this is where that time wave originated from, Tails? This place doesn't appear to be in any sort of danger."
Tails glanced down at his radar, which he was holding in his left hand, as he said, "Yeah, I know, Cadance. Everything here looks fine, but my radar is still picking up something. I'd like to see if we could figure out where it's coming from before we leave."
Rainbow looked around for a moment before saying, "Well, I guess I could see how it would be hard to find something in a place like this. For not being a base anymore, it's hard to see much from where we're standing."
Twilight looked up at the sky overhead before looking forward at one of the metal walls as she mused, "It seems clustered here, but maybe that's because we're down here. If we go somewhere high up, we might be able to get a better look around."
Sonic nodded, "Good idea." He ran towards the wall Twilight was looking at and no one was too surprised when he suddenly ran up it, Tails and Rainbow Dash flying up after him. He went up and grabbed onto the ledge at the top, pulling himself up as Rainbow and Tails came up at his sides. Tails consulted his radar again while both Rainbow Dash and Sonic looked around, their view much clearer now that they could see (nearly) the whole park.
As she looked, Rainbow thought she saw lights shining brightly in the sky from far off in the distance in one direction. She nudged Sonic with a hoof and pointed while asking, "Hey Sonic, what's over there? Where are those lights coming from?"
Sonic looked, placing his right hand above his brow to try to see clearer. "I think… that kind of looks like where Stardust Speedway is from here," he said after a moment.
Rainbow asked, "Stardust Speedway? Isn't that where Tails and Spike fought that Metal Sonic robot? I thought Tails said it was like… not like this place."
Sonic nodded, "Yeah. That's how I remember it. Maybe…"
The trio suddenly heard Pinkie behind them, "What?!" They looked back over their shoulders, but there was no pink pony there. A second later, though, her head popped up above the ledge and she asked, "What?!" before going back down again. They guessed she was bouncing up and down, probably with the help of a trampoline.
Sonic turned and walked over to the ledge and, the next time Pinkie's head popped up, he reached down and grabbed her, pulling her up and setting her down. Before she could ask, he said, "I'm just wondering if Stardust Speedway is different in this future compared to the future I saw. I think it'd be kind of odd if it was the only place that was ruined while the rest of the Little Planet is perfect."
Tails spoke up, "It might not be perfect for much longer. My radar's locked onto the source of the disturbance, and it's coming from that direction!" He looked up and pointed his right finger in the direction of Stardust Speedway.
Rainbow thumped her forehooves together as she said, "Cool! So now we just gotta go, take care of whatever this disturbance is, and we can go back to getting to Canterlot!"
Pinkie smiled, "Ooh! That sounds easy!"
Tails looked over at her and said, "Well, let's hope so, Pinkie." Sonic looked over at him and nodded before jumping over the ledge, Pinkie soon following while Tails and Rainbow flew down after them. Both Sonic and Pinkie made a soft landing thanks to the latter's trampoline and they, along with Rainbow Dash and Tails, explained the situation to the others. Once they were finished, they set out on foot/hoof/claw through the futuristic park, though Rainbow Dash flew above everyone to keep an eye out for any trouble and dead ends in the metallic area.
As the group ran, Twilight noticed Sonic seemed to be looking around more than he usually did while on the move. At first, she thought he was trying to take in as much of their surroundings as he could, but a closer look revealed that his face was slightly scrunched up, as though he was trying to concentrate. She managed to get a little closer to him and asked, "Is something wrong, Sonic?"
The blue hedgehog glanced back at her as he replied, "No, I'm just trying to recall the way I came and adjust it for where we are now."
Rainbow Dash overheard and flew down closer, asking, "You mean you don't remember the way you came through here?"
Sonic answered, "I might if we were going forward, but not backwards, especially not in this future. Plus the way I got here from Stardust Speedway probably doesn't exist in this future."
Twilight asked, "What do you mean?"
After rounding a corner and passing into a part of the area that was covered by a roof, Sonic looked back at her, "You remember what Tails and I were talking about before, about the ruined Stardust Speedway?" Twilight nodded, so he said, "After I outraced Metal Sonic and rescued Amy, I found a bridge leading directly to Eggman's base near where Eggman had Amy tied up. As I was crossing it, I started going back in time to the present, and as I was crossing it, it started disappearing under my feet! By the time I reached the end, it had disappeared completely!"
Spike, who was riding on Twilight's back, asked, "So the bridge is gone?"
Sonic replied, "That one might be, but while I was running across it, I thought I saw another bridge connecting Eggman's base to Stardust Speedway, and I'm pretty sure it didn't disappear like mine did during the time travel. That bridge is probably our best bet for reaching Stardust Speedway right now."
Tails spoke up suddenly, his radar in his left hand as he glanced down at it, "Well, I'd say we're definitely on the right track right now! We're getting close, but it looks like whatever it is responsible for this is starting to move!"
Shining Armor asked, "Any idea what it is yet, Tails?"
The fox answered, "I can't tell right now. It could be a portal, but if it is, it's different from any that we've seen so far. I'll need to take a look at it before I'll know for sure."
Sonic spoke, "Well, get ready to look, buddy! We're coming up on the exit to this place!" Tails looked forward and saw a large opening in the metal up ahead. It almost looked like a mall entrance, just without the doors, and it even had a sign directly above it telling visitors to come again. Once they were outside, it didn't take them long to find the bridge Sonic had mentioned, however it seemed to be unusable due to a large crack, like a fissure, running through the middle at their end of it. What was really odd was that they couldn't see the water under the bridge through the crack; instead it was completely black on the inside and the edges of the hole seemed to be pulsing with some kind of energy. They all came to a stop near the crack, close enough to get a good look at it but not quite at the edge of it either.
"Goodness, what is this?!" Rarity exclaimed with her forehooves around her mouth.
Tails looked down at his radar as he pointed it at the crack, the bottom screen now reading 12142011 while the readings on the top screen appeared to be erratic compared to the readings it had recorded before. Looking back at the crack a moment later, he said, "This has to be what caused that time wave. I don't know how it came to be here, but it's not supposed to be here, not in this way."
Sonic looked over at him and asked, "What is it, though? It can't be a portal, right?"
Tails nodded, "Right… I think it's actually a time warp."
Applejack raised an eyebrow, "A time what now, Tails?"
Shining Armor spoke up before the fox could answer, "Are you saying that this black hole could warp us to another time?"
Tails shrugged, "I don't know, maybe? I've never seen a time warp before; I don't know where this could go."
Twilight mused, "So we probably shouldn't just jump in there without a plan. We should try to be ready for as many possible occurrences as we…"
She was cut off when Rainbow Dash flew above everyone and said, "Come on, everypony! Let's get in there and do the time warp thing!" She then shot down towards the crack, aiming right for the middle of it.
"Wait, Rainbow Dash!" Tails tried to call, but at her speed, she was too far along to be able to stop herself now.
Before she could disappear into the blackness, however, two bright blue beams shot out of the hole at the cyan pegasus! Rainbow Dash's eyes widened and she tried to get out of the way, but the lasers came so fast and so suddenly that there was no time for her to get out of the way completely. She didn't get hit, but the beams scrapped along her wings, throwing her off and sending her spiraling down into the crack while screaming, "Whoa!"
Sonic dashed to the edge of the crack and looked down, seeing the pegasus disappear into the darkness below. "Rainbow, no!" he cried, getting ready to jump down after her. Before he could, a missile shot out of the darkness and hit the wall of the crack, exploding just below Sonic's feet. This caused the smoke to rise up to him, causing him to grunt and turn away to avoid breathing it in or getting it in his eyes. It also caused the crack to extend back in that direction, the ground crumbling underneath Sonic and sending him falling down with a "Wah!"
As the smoke cleared, everybody else could see that the ground was starting to crack near them, indicating the time warp was moving back towards Metallic Madness now as well. After quickly checking his radar, Tails confirmed this, "These readings… it's getting worse! And Sonic and Rainbow Dash are right in the middle of it!"
Shining spoke, "Then there's no time to come up with a plan! Let's get down there and help them deal with whatever attacked them!" Considering the situation, nobody wanted to argue with him. Even Fluttershy seemed like she was willing to face the unknown to help her oldest friend and one of her new friends. They all ran towards the crack and leapt over the edge; as they fell, Tails, Fluttershy, and Cadance focused, getting ready to help the others in case they had a ways to fall.
As the group continued to fall into the blackness, it soon began to part like clouds, revealing something in the distance that they were falling towards. It was too obscured by the black to be completely clear, but they were starting to make out the color and shape of it. Spike, who was riding on Twilight's back, pointed at it and asked, "Hey, what is that thing?"
Once they were a little closer, everyone could see that the top of the object was striped light orange and red, with places being dark blue in color. The shape of it became clearer as well. "It looks like a… giant eight?" Twilight guessed.
Tails squinted, looking closer for a moment before saying, "Yeah. Actually, from the way it curves, I think it's a giant Möbius Strip. Cool!"
Applejack grunted, "That's fascinatin', darlin', but maybe we could focus more on landin' rather than lookin'?"
Cadance noticed something seemed different and looked around, trying to figure out what it was. A moment later, she said, "I think we're slowing down!" Sure enough, everyone was falling slower than when they had jumped into the darkness as they got closer to the giant eight. Not long afterwards, they all landed on top of the eight near one of its turns, everyone stumbling a bit as their momentum from falling had, strangely, not been affected by them slowing down.
Looking around, they found that the black had changed to a dark purple that was very nearly black and the figure eight was surrounded by what appeared to be walls that were varying shades of dark purple. While some parts of the walls looked even, the rest of it seemed to stick out like misplaced bricks, cubes poking out of the otherwise smooth walls. Nearby, on the figure eight itself, they could see a tall post with a pair of red banners that both had white arrows on them pointing to the right and a smaller post with what appeared to be a red Eggman head on top of it.
Fluttershy nervously lowered her body closer to the ground, her rush wearing off as she meekly asked, "Where… where are we?"
Applejack trotted over to her side and placed a hoof on her, saying, "Don't ya worry none, Fluttershy. This place doesn't look too scary."
Cadance looked off to the side with an uneasy expression as she said, "I don't know. Dark, claustrophobic places like this… I'm not exactly fond of them either."
Shining moved over to her and wrapped a hoof around her, "Don't worry, my sweet. I'm here for you."
Spike and Twilight turned to Tails, the former asking, "Hey Tails, are you sure this is a time warp or whatever? Because, uh, it's kind of creepy if it is." Twilight nodded in agreement.
Tails looked up from his radar and looked at them, saying, "Yeah, I'm pretty sure it is, but… well, take a look." He held his radar in his right hand, holding it so they could see its screens as he walked over to them. They looked at it and saw that neither screen seemed to be doing what it was supposed to, numbers appearing and changing on the bottom screen while the top screen just showed a green grid with the word 'ERROR' in front of it.
Twilight said, "I see what you mean, Tails."
Spike nodded, "Yeah, that hasn't happened before."
Suddenly, they all heard a familiar voice call to them, "Hey!" They all looked to the left and saw Sonic and Rainbow Dash running towards them.
Pinkie grinned as they got closer, "There you two are! I was starting to get worried about you!"
Shining asked, "Are you both okay?"
Sonic replied, "Yeah. Dash's wings are a little singed, but she told me she's fine."
Rainbow huffed, "Because I am! I didn't land any harder than you did, Sonic! And I can clean my wings just fine, thank you! Pegasi are supposed to know how to clean their wings, you know!"
Sonic held his hands up, "Okay! I was just offering to help, that's all."
Rainbow looked at him, "Well, wings are kind of a personal thing, okay?"
Applejack rolled her eyes before saying, "So y'all are okay. That's good. Have ya seen… whatever it was that attacked ya?"
Rainbow answered, "No. Until we saw you guys, it's just been us. We haven't seen anything else in this… whatever this place is called again."
Tails spoke up, "It's a time warp, Rainbow Dash. And if my radar is indication, time is running wild in here."
Sonic held his right hand up to his chin, "Really?"
A moment later, the ground started rumbling, surprising everyone. "What's going on?!" Twilight cried over all the rumbling. The answer came a few seconds later when something large came down from above, going through the hole in front of the group and pushing the air towards them, forcing them to look away and try to shield themselves against it.
When the force stopped a moment later and they looked up, they saw what looked like a brand new Death Egg Robot looming over them, though from the look of it, it was much larger. From where they were standing, the group was level with the robot's chest; the head, while not towering over them, was above them and likely out of jumping reach. The head itself was completely silver-gray in color, as was its Eggman-like mustache, but its nose was red and its eyes were blue. Two yellow stripes ran down the sides of its chest, which, combined with its red body, made it look like the old outfit Eggman used to wear, and in the center of its chest was a simple, white 'R-9' mark. It didn't appear to have arms, and, while they couldn't see down far enough, it probably didn't have legs either.
"What in tarnation is that thing?!" Applejack exclaimed.
Sonic held his right hand up to his chin, "Hmm… a mustache, a pointy nose, and a fat body… Whatever it is, I think we all know who built it and is driving it."
Pinkie piped up, "Ooh, ooh! Is it Discord?!"
Twilight looked at her oddly for a second before saying, "Uh, I think he means Dr. Eggman, Pinkie."
Pinkie blinked and turned to look at the robot. She held a hoof up to her face, "Oh yeah, I guess it does kind of look like Eggy! But…"
Before she could continue, a familiar yet, at the same time, unfamiliar voice came from the robot, "Ha, ha, ha!"
Tails looked over at Sonic and said, "This thing was more than likely built by Eggman, but that sure doesn't sound like his laughter."
Sonic nodded, "Yeah, you're right. It's totally wrong, and it sounds kind of mechanical. So it's probably not Discord either."
Rainbow grunted as she spread her wings, "Who cares who it is?!" She flew up, floating in front of the robot's face as she said, "Hey, chrome dome! You're really messing up time by being here, and I'm not too happy about you trying to cook my wings either! You'd better jet on out of here and go back to wherever you came from, or we're gonna have to-" She was cut off in mid-sentence when the robot's eyes suddenly fired those blue lasers from earlier at her, the cyan pegasus flying down to avoid them! "Hey!" she cried, only for the robot to tilt its head down and fire at her again, Rainbow and everyone else scattering to avoid getting hit.
Rainbow Dash growled, "Okay, that's it! You're going down!" She flew up and then shot straight towards the robot's head, bringing her left hind leg forward as she got closer to it. She struck it in the middle of its forehead at top speed… only to wince a second later and leap back away from it, screaming in pain! She ended up falling on her rump, holding her leg and groaning as she rubbed it, trying to make it feel better.
While Fluttershy instantly moved to her side to help her, Sonic glared up at the robot and curled up into a ball, shooting up towards its head. "This Eggman substitute has not been approved- UGH!" he groaned as he was knocked back by the robot leaning forward to literally meet him head on, falling back down onto the road. He grunted as he sat up, "That thing's armor must be harder than a diamond!"
Shining growled, "There's gotta be a way to get through it! Maybe our magic can find or make a hole in it! Twilight, Cadance!" The unicorn and alicorn nodded, Cadance taking to the air while Shining began running to the left, trying to cover the side he could reach easily while Cadance attacked from the other side and the back. Twilight, meanwhile, stayed at the front with the others and started charging up her horn, knowing she needed to keep it focused on her while her brother and sister-in-law went around. She began charging up Mystic Blades and beams, firing both at various spots on the robot's front, hoping they would go through. Shining and Cadance, meanwhile, began firing beams from their horns and sweeping them up and down the robot. The result was the same for all three of them: their magic neither went through nor did it cause any damage from what anyone could see.
After about a minute of this, the robot, apparently fed up with their attempts, opened a compartment on its back and brought out a missile launcher that had two open slots. A second later, it shot several missiles out of both slots, everyone seeing them launch and scrambling to get away from where they were going to land! They managed to avoid getting directly caught in the blasts, but many of them were thrown by the force of the explosions. Shining, Cadance, and Rainbow moved to help Spike and the other ponies while Sonic ran to Tails' aid. While helping Twilight up, Shining growled, "Argh… What is it with this thing?! What's it made out of?!"
Cadance looked up at the robot worriedly, "It's so strong… It's like its armor is perfect!"
Twilight and Spike groaned as they stood up, the latter asking, "Is there anything we can do to it…?"
Sonic looked over at them after helping Tails up and said, "I'm sure there is. I just don't know what it is!"
Tails held his right hand up to the side of his face as he sighed, "If we weren't stuck in this time warp, there might be a way we could use it, or more specifically its messed up flow of time, to travel into the past, back to when the robot wasn't so perfect. But I don't think we can travel through time in the middle of a time warp; at best, from here, we could maybe change the direction time is going, but I don't know how much else we can do."
Sonic looked at him for a moment before looking up at a nearby post, specifically the arrows on the banners hanging from it. He then looked at the robot for a second before smirking, "You know, Tails… that might be all we need." Before the fox could ask what he was thinking, Sonic curled into a ball and shot towards the robot's head once more. When he was repelled this time, he briefly broke out of his spin before curling back up and striking at the top of its head several more times before stopping and landing on the road directly behind it. As he expected, the robot began to turn around, now even more annoyed at him. Sonic used a Boost to get moving, running in the direction of the arrows as he called to the robot, "You want me? Come and get me!"
As he ran towards her, Twilight tried to ask, "Sonic, what are you… Ah!" The last was an exclamation as she closed her eyes when he ran past her, not slowing down for a second. As she opened her eyes, however, she saw something faint trailing behind the blue hedgehog. "Are those… afterimages?" she wondered.
Sonic ran as fast as he could while the road was mostly straight, starting to lean to the right as he approached the curve. Just as he reached it, however, the robot floated up through the nearby hole from below, facing the road ahead of where Sonic was. As the hedgehog started turning, the robot unleashed a burst of fire from its nose, a plume of flames rising up when it hit the road! Sonic planted his feet against the ground, facing the robot as he skidded across the ground, towards the fire.
Before he could stop completely or hit the flames, he suddenly shot towards the robot in a ball again, this time aiming for its left shoulder. This time, though, he actually made a small dent in his target, cutting through the armor plating and landing close to the bottom curve of the eight! He looked back at the robot and noticed electricity sparking from the dent he had made in the robot's shoulder. He pumped his left fist as he grinned, "Yes! Just as I thought!"
The others ran over to him, Shining asking, "Sonic, what did you do?!"
Sonic looked at him and replied, "I got the idea when Tails mentioned we might be able to mess with the way time flows in here."
Tails quickly caught onto what he was saying and said, "I get it! When you had the Time Stones, you said you had to use your speed to time travel! It's the same idea here, but instead of traveling through time, you created a stream in time, one that went in reverse because the way you ran was opposite the way most people write an 'S' or draw an eight!"
Twilight began to piece together what Tails was saying herself. "So, by creating a reverse-flowing time stream, Sonic was able to turn time back, specifically turning it back on that robot to a point where it wasn't so perfect!"
Sonic nodded, "Exactly! If we keep rewinding the clock on that thing, we can hit it where it hurts!"
Rainbow thumped her forehooves together, "Let's do this!"
The others looked confident at this, but then Applejack called, "Hey, it's comin' back, y'all!" Everyone turned and saw the robot flying up above the giant eight and moving towards them. Once it was closer, it began to drop down!
"SCATTER!" Cadance screamed and everyone complied. Sonic, Tails, and Rainbow Dash started moving in the direction of the arrows while the pink alicorn and everyone else went the other way to get away from the robot. Thankfully, it went back through the hole at that end, but it came dangerously close to the road, close enough that it could've either knocked off or flattened anyone that had been just standing there.
Once they were out of danger, Shining looked at his wife and said, "Hey, I should be giving orders here! I'm the Captain of the Royal Guard, after all!"
Cadance smirked at him, "Who was quicker on the draw?"
Sonic, Rainbow, and Tails, meanwhile, began picking up speed, all of them hoping that the three of them moving together would make time go backwards faster. "Let's step on it! We gotta take this thing down before it can wear us out!" Sonic said.
Rainbow nodded, "Yeah!" A second later, she asked, "Uh, how fast do we have to go to rewind time, anyway?"
Sonic shrugged, "I don't know the specifics. I don't carry a speedometer with me."
Tails spoke, "Well, if you want a general idea, I'd say at least 88 miles per hour ought to be fast enough!" With that, he began spinning his twin tails around, pushing off the ground slightly as they began to push him forward.
Sonic started running faster and Rainbow flapped her wings harder in response to what the fox was doing, the latter saying, "If that's how fast we need to go, then this'll be a breeze!" They both caught up with Tails and they all stuck together as they headed into the curve up ahead.
The robot, meanwhile, seemed to realize what they were up to and brought out its missile launcher again, firing several missiles ahead of the trio as they began to loop around. Tails and Rainbow flew to get out of the way when they saw this, but Sonic kept going at full speed, sidestepping around the missiles and their explosions as they rained down on the road. Rainbow and Tails rejoined him when he was clear, approaching the second loop and their friends.
As the three of them came around, Twilight, Shining, and Cadance got ready, firing magic beams at the robot's head after the trio passed them. Their beams still ricocheted off, but the robot ignored them and turned its attention back to Rainbow, Sonic, and Tails. It began to turn its head to follow them as they prepared to go a second time around, Rarity stayed by Fluttershy's side as the three passed them while Applejack, Pinkie Pie, and Spike were waiting on the second straight path. As the robot turned its head in their direction, Applejack called "Hey, you!" before bucking a cake up at its face.
After she did that, Spike threw a cupcake at it while Pinkie Pie (who had an entire supply of confections next to her that she had gotten from… somewhere) threw a pair of cakes with her forehooves, saying, "We're assaulting you with cake!" After flinging her cakes, Pinkie grabbed another cake and a cupcake and tossed them to Spike and Applejack before grabbing two more cakes from her arsenal. They kept throwing stuff at the robot as Sonic, Tails, and Rainbow zoomed by, managing to smear some frosting over the robot's eyes and hoping to do their part in keeping it distracted.
It ended up proving ineffective, however; as Tails, Sonic, and Rainbow were coming up on their second lap, the robot turned its head around and took care of the frosting on its eyes by firing its lasers at them. The shots came close to hitting Twilight, Cadance, and Shining Armor, forcing the three of them to get out of the way, Cadance flying up while Twilight and Shining ran to the right. After getting out of harm's way, both siblings charged up their horns and fired magic beams at the robot's right side, both beams hitting the yellow stripe and creating cracks in its armor. Noticing how close the two crack points were, Twilight charged up a Mystic Blade and sent it flying vertically. When it hit, a gash opened up in the robot's plating between the two cracks!
Twilight gasped, "It's working! The robot's armor is getting weaker!"
Shining called to Sonic, Tails, and Rainbow, "Keep it up, you guys! We're starting to break through its armor!" The three of them needed no further encouragement; they kept going while the others kept doing their best to distract the robot from them and punch through its armor. Shining, Cadance, and Twilight did most of the latter, with Twilight and Shining attacking the robot's front and sides while Cadance made use of her wings to get a better shot at the back, occasionally throwing a beam at the front and sides when she could. Applejack was also able to contribute a buck or two to the back a few times whenever the robot hovered close enough.
After about a minute, the group's combined efforts (including all the pastries Pinkie Pie, Spike, and Applejack had thrown) managed to weaken the robot's armor enough to open it up in several places and damage its interior, but the center of its front, right around the 'R-9' mark, remained undamaged. While Tails caught his breath, having just stopped while Sonic and Rainbow Dash kept going, Cadance flew down by Shining and Twilight as they examined the robot. "It's damaged in some way everywhere but around that mark. Why is that?" Shining wondered aloud.
Twilight tapped her chin with a hoof. "Maybe it's reinforced because its most important internal machinery is behind there?" she guessed.
Tails looked up and, after examining the robot for a moment, said, "I'd have to say you're right, Twilight. Which means we're either going to need to really turn time back or try something else." He ran to the right around the robot and looked past it, seeing Sonic and Rainbow Dash coming around the curve again. "Sonic!" he called, the blue hedgehog hearing and looking towards him as he and Rainbow straightened out. Tails held his hands up, clapped them together, and tilted them forward. The hedgehog seemed to understand, for he gave a nod as he and Rainbow Dash kept going.
Tails ran back over to Twilight, Shining, and Cadance, Twilight asking, "What was that all about, Tails?"
Tails asked, "Remember that rolling move Sonic and I performed back in that mountainous region?" Twilight thought for a moment before nodding. Tails explained, "We're going to see if that'll work against this thing. Do you think you can use your magic to line us up properly?" Twilight nodded again, so Tails moved into the road to wait for Sonic.
He didn't have to wait long as, seconds later, Sonic and Rainbow Dash came zooming towards him. After making sure he wasn't in Rainbow's flight path, Tails held out his right hand towards Sonic, the blue hedgehog coming to a stop and clapping his right hand against the fox's. They then leapt up and began spinning, creating their Rolling Combo. Before they hit the ground, Twilight grabbed them with her magic, spun them around her, and then released them, sending them upwards at an angle towards the robot's chest.
They struck the 'R-9' dead-on, their combined form spinning as it pushed against the robot's armor, trying to break through. After a long moment, everyone could hear the sound of cracking and, seconds later, the Rolling Combo burrowed deeper into the robot's chest, the sound of something smashing being heard before Sonic and Tails shot out of the robot's back, breaking out of their combo and landing near Spike, Applejack, Pinkie Pie, and Rainbow Dash (who had come to a stop near the three of them).
After the duo landed, they all turned to look at the robot, sparks really beginning to fly from it as its head spun around 360 degrees. It began to fall towards the first straight part of the road, Rarity and Fluttershy scrambling to get out of the way. It landed face first, a small explosion accompanying it that caused everyone to shield themselves. Looking back at it afterwards, they saw that it hadn't totally broken apart, but it seemed to be damaged beyond repair.
A moment later, Tails cheered, "We did it!"
Sonic nodded, "Yeah! Team effort!" He bumped fists with Tails, both them then moving over to do the same with Rainbow Dash, Spike, Pinkie Pie, and Applejack while Twilight, Shining, and Cadance shared a hug and Rarity hugged Fluttershy (who gave a quiet "yay" as she hugged Rarity back).
The moment was interrupted when they heard a weak mechanical voice come from the robot, "Ha… ha… ha…!"
Rainbow groaned, "There's still something in there?!"
Twilight spoke, "Something's been doing nothing but laughing all this time… Is there really a pilot in there?"
Sonic said, "Well, if there is, it doesn't sound like it's a living thing. So…"
Before he could continue, a loud beeping sound suddenly filled the air. Tails gasped, "Oh no! It must have a self-destruct built into it! It's going to explode!" Everybody gasped at this, but before they could do anything, a faint white glyph in the shape of a hexagon appeared underneath everyone. A second later, they were all surrounded by a bright green flash that caused them to disappear, the remains of the robot exploding only seconds later…
The bright green flashes deposited everyone close together on a bright violet road, all of them looking startled at the sudden change in their surroundings. "Whoa… What just happened?" Spike asked.
Tails scratched his head, "Some kind of teleportation, kind of like Chaos Control…?"
Rainbow looked around and asked, "Where are we?" Everyone else looked around as well, seeing a clear starlit sky above them and, off in the distance, a lit up city dominated by bright pink and green colors. Many structures, including a large Ferris wheel, could be seen amongst all the buildings.
Sonic spoke after a moment, "I think… this is Stardust Speedway."
Spike gawked at him, "THIS is Stardust Speedway?! It looked nothing like this when Tails and I were there!"
Tails shrugged, "Maybe Metal Sonic went into the ruined future where he and Sonic originally fought, the future where Eggman's pollution and machinery weren't stopped. This could be the opposite side of the coin: a future where Eggman's attempt to take over didn't happen."
Applejack whistled, "Well, it sure is pretty. Ya can't deny that."
Rarity nodded, "Oh yes, it certainly is. It's like Canterlot and Manehattan have come together as one beautiful, futuristic city!"
Shining perked up at that, "Wait, speaking of futures… What happened to that time warp we were in?!"
Everyone realized what he was saying, Tails quickly pulling out his radar and opening it up. After a few seconds, he said, "I'm not picking up any more irregularities. Either we're too far away, or it's no longer a threat."
Cadance asked, "Something like a time warp like that… If you could pick it up from where Dr. Eggman's base used to be, you should be able to pick it up from here, right?"
Tails replied, "That would be my guess…"
Pinkie bounced over to Tails' side and said, "Then we did it! We beat the creepy laughing robot and dealt with the disturbance it was making! That really was easy!"
Tails chuckled, "Yeah, I guess so, Pinkie." As if to confirm it, the original 11191993 from earlier appeared on the bottom screen of his radar.
While looking around, Twilight spotted a building that stood out against all the rest off in the distance. She turned to Sonic and asked, "Hey Sonic, what's that building over there?" She pointed behind him at the building, the hedgehog turning around to look while the others looked as well.
The building in question looked like it could be a large mansion or a cathedral, the light coming from its many windows and it not being near any other buildings making it easy to see from a distance. Sonic held his right hand under his chin and put his left hand on his hip, saying a moment later, "I don't know. If I'm not mistaken, however, it's right where Eggman was building a statue of himself in… I guess it would be the past here?"
Fluttershy asked, "Um, Sonic? Isn't that where you said he found one of the Time Stones?"
Sonic nodded, "Yeah… I'm curious now." He looked over his shoulder at the others, "Anyone else want to take a closer look before we leave?"
Rainbow nodded, "You bet!" The others agreed as well, so, after Tails put his radar away, the group began navigating the city's many roads, trying to find the one that would take them to the mystery building.
A short while later, they stood on the road in front of the building, which they could now see was a vibrant purple color. From the look of it, it was most likely a mansion. Rainbow Dash flew up to one of the windows, trying to look inside while the rest of the group leapt over to the landing in front of the front steps. A few seconds later, Rainbow pulled her head and called down, "I can't see anything! Those green curtains are blocking my view!"
Tails looked back at the building and said, "Well, it looks like an ordinary, fancy mansion."
Rarity's eyes shimmered, "Oh yes, it's absolutely FABULOUS! I certainly wouldn't mind having a mansion like this for a summer home!"
Tails looked at her before he continued, "Uh… right, Rarity. Also my radar would probably be going off if it detected something out of the ordinary."
Rainbow flew down to the group as Cadance said, "Then we should just go. We did what we came here to do; just because the lights are on doesn't mean somepony's home, and I don't think we should be breaking and entering without a good reason." Nobody could argue with that, so Tails pulled the Warp Ring out of his namesakes with his right hand.
Before he could toss it, the group heard a creaking sound behind them and turned to see the front doors of the building opening inward. "Is… somepony home after all?" Fluttershy meekly wondered.
Sonic and Shining Armor looked at each other before walking forward and going up the steps, peering inside at the foyer before them. "Uh, hello? Anybody home?" Sonic called. A moment passed with no response to either of the hedgehog's questions.
Suddenly, Pinkie appeared between the two, saying, "Sounds like somepony's playing hide-and-seek~!" She then bounced forward, going through the doors.
Sonic held his right hand out to her as he ran after her, "Wait, Pinkie!" Shining ended up following after him, as did the others in case Pinkie decided to be particularly tricky to contain.
Inside, they found both Sonic and Pinkie standing on the red carpet rolled out across the center of the foyer, which went into an adjacent room underneath a loft on the second story (which had two staircases leading up to it on its right and left sides). Looking around, Tails saw a painting of a Gothic-looking building on the left wall and a painting of a forested area with what looked like conveyor belts on the right wall. Looking up, he noticed what appeared to be a sundial in the center of the ceiling.
"This is… an interesting house," Tails commented, though he was starting to think about what it could be. The others nodded in agreement.
A moment later, Pinkie said, "Ooh! Something bright!" She then trotted off, walking across the red carpet as she hummed to herself. Sonic looked at the others and they all shrugged before following after the pink pony.
While following Pinkie through the next room, Sonic looked around. Aside from a few tables, chairs, and doorways to other rooms, he saw on the right wall a painting of a clock tower and a painting of a cliff overlooking the sea during what appeared to be a sunset on the left wall. He and the rest of the group followed Pinkie into a third room, this one much smaller and having a large archaic organ across from the doors. It looked like a sitting room if the chairs and couches in it were anything to go by. There were some objects on the walls, but they didn't appear to be readily recognizable.
While everyone looked around the room, Twilight asked, "Did you see something in here, Pinkie?"
The party pony replied, "I saw light coming from here and wanted to see what it was! It seemed like there was something VERY interesting about this room!"
Rarity let out a loud gasp and said, "I must say I agree with you, Pinkie! Look!" They all looked over to see her standing in front of the organ, seemingly looking up at it.
Sonic walked over, saying, "I knew you liked gems, Rarity. I didn't know you had a taste for classic instruments too."
Pinkie bounced up along Rarity's other side, looking up at the organ as she said, "It's a really big organ! I wonder if I could play the organ?"
Rarity spoke, "Not the organ itself! Above it!" Everyone looked up to see a dark blue tapestry displaying what appeared to be an owl mask in the center hanging on the wall above the huge organ. And sewn into it, around the mask, were seven hexagonal gemstones, which were blue, green, cyan, orange, purple, yellow, and red in color. "Look at those beautiful gems! They're so perfectly formed and on display for all to see!" Rarity gushed.
Sonic spoke after a moment, "Those aren't just any gems, Rarity. Those are the Time Stones!"
Everyone, save for Tails, looked at him in surprise, Shining Armor asking, "Really?! Those seven jewels are the Time Stones?!"
Sonic looked at him and nodded, "Yeah. Supposedly, whoever has all seven of them is given the power to reshape time itself." He shrugged, "I was too busy dealing with Eggman to find out for myself if that's true."
Rainbow spoke up, "Well, let's find out now! Let's take the Time Stones back with us! We can use their power to completely undo what that creature did to our worlds!"
Twilight protested, "I don't think we should do that, Rainbow! That kind of power sounds like it would be extremely difficult to handle!"
Rainbow argued, "So? Sonic and his friends have used the Chaos Emeralds before, and those things can't be easy to handle!"
Sonic butted into the argument, "Yeah, but they're not the same thing either." He gestured with his right hand at one of the windows, "We saw a bright, beautiful city out there; when Eggman got the Time Stone that was hidden here, I saw a future that was totally dark and ruined, which I'm sure is what Tails and Spike saw earlier. I'd say there's a noticeable difference in the kind of power we're talking about here."
Tails spoke up, "Besides, we might not be allowed to take them from here."
Applejack looked at him and asked, "What do ya mean, Tails?"
The fox explained, "There are lots of legends surrounding the Little Planet. Its existence, what the Time Stones are, and what they can do are among the more well-known, but I've seen some other, lesser-known legends. Some of the ones I've seen mention a group of elite protectors known as the Knights of Kronos."
Twilight asked, "The Knights of Kronos?"
Tails nodded, "Yeah. Supposedly, they've protected the Little Planet, especially the Time Stones, throughout time. They're usually mentioned in conjunction with the Time Stones."
Rainbow asked, "So… what do they have to do with this?"
Tails sighed, "There's so much mystery surrounding the Little Planet. You saw the city out there. Someone had to have made it what it is, yet no one knows for sure if anyone lives here. All we've got to go by are rumors and legends." He looked around the room as he added, "But looking at all of this, what's been done here, I can't help but wonder if they're true."
Sonic held a hand to his chin, "I can believe it. I mean, the Time Stones had to get up here somehow. I just left 'em behind after I forced Eggman to retreat and before I escaped with Amy, and I wasn't anywhere near here."
Cadance spoke, "In that case, we should leave them behind. These Knights of Kronos may have brought the Time Stones here to watch over them the same way the Elements of Harmony are normally watched over in Canterlot Castle now. We have as much a right to keep them safe from those who would misuse them as whoever their guardian or guardians may be."
Sonic nodded, "Yeah. After all the times he tried to mess with the Little Planet, I'm sure Eggman's basically got a big 'not welcome' stamped on him, and it'll be a long time before anyone that crazy comes searching for the Little Planet."
Tails asked, "Like whoever sent that robot?"
Sonic shrugged, "Yeah, I guess that thing could've been sent by someone else, but I still think Eggman had something to do with that. It's not like he has a big appreciation tribe or anything like that, and he wouldn't be too happy if someone tried to pull off a plot he could come up with or use his toys without his permission."
Tails nodded, "That's true." He held up the Warp Ring, which he was still carrying with his right hand, "Should we get going?"
Rainbow shrugged, "Yeah. I guess you guys are right. We should try to fix this mess ourselves before going to these Knights of Kronos for help. Besides, we'll get credit for it and look way more awesome while doing it!" Some of the group members rolled their eyes at this while Tails tossed the Warp Ring on the floor, the ring expanding to its full size.
As they prepared to leave, Twilight sighed, "It's too bad we couldn't meet the Knights of Kronos. At least we could've let them know what happened earlier."
Remembering what happened when they were pulled out of the time warp, Sonic looked at her and smirked, "Somehow, I get the feeling they already know, Twilight." With that, they all stepped through the Warp Ring one at a time, leaving the Little Planet behind.
After they were all through, as the Warp Ring started to shrink, three hooded figures appeared in the doorway, watching. Despite how bright the mansion was on the inside, only their silhouettes could be seen, their eyes shining like lights from under their hoods…
Whoo... This was much later and much longer than I intended for it to be. Freaking writer's block... At least I managed to get it done though, right?
So this one will probably require a bit of explanation. Um... has everyone know who Christian Whitehead is? If you haven't heard of him, he's become a bit recognized in the Sonic community for his Retro Engine, which he's used to do the recent re-releases of Sonic CD and the Sonic 1 and 2, with a Sonic 3 re-release hopefully on the way later this year. The thing about Christian Whitehead's re-releases, though, is that they aren't simply the same game that's been re-released a thousand times before; he usually includes a few new things in each game, such as Super Sonic being available in Sonic 1 and a finished version of Hidden Palace Zone being present in Sonic 2. Sonic CD also received a few new things, such as the Sonic 2 Spin Dash and Tails being a playable character, but two notable things were cut from that re-release: Desert Dazzle Zone, and an extra final boss known only as Final Fever.
While Desert Dazzle Zone apparently needed more work done on it, Final Fever was mostly finished, to the point that Christian Whitehead was able to talk about how it would've worked if it had been included. The entire battle against the boss here was based entirely on what he said about it, and its appearance is based on the only known picture of it (it should be pretty easy to find if you look up "Final Fever"). Since he didn't mention how the boss would attack, most of the attacks seen here come from the final boss of "Sonic 3D Blast" (which was also fought in a dark void, at least in the Sega Genesis/Megadrive version). And I don't know what exactly the battleground for the fight was supposed to be, other than it was supposed to take place in a distorted time warp. Based on the colors in the picture, I'm assuming it was supposed to be kind of like Stardust Speedway, but I didn't want to make the fight overly complicated to write, so I made them fight on a Möbius Strip because, aside from being a reference to one of the courses in "Sonic Riders: Zero Gravity", it was easier to work with.
That whole thing about the boss messing with time and the fact that it's not supposed to be there is meant to reference the fact that it hasn't been officially released yet, the same way Sonic 2's Hidden Palace Zone wasn't officially finished and released when I wrote that chapter.
I think that's about all I want to say about the boss. Now for the rest of the notes...
Shining Armor's reference to Gaffer, one of his friends during his and Cadance's Canterlot Academy days, is a reference to the "Quantum Leap" reference the writers of the comic made during the "Neigh Anything" story arc in the main IDW comics.
I was tempted to have Sonic reference the Crystal Egg Zone from the 8-bit version of Sonic 2 when he was telling Twilight that Metallic Madness was Eggman's base at one point, since the first two acts of that looked nothing like a base, but I ended up not including it.
The first numbers that appear on Tails' radar are the North American release date of Sonic CD on the Sega/Mega CD. The second set of numbers is the XBLA release date of the re-release.
Pinkie's mention of Equestria's Moon being pulled to the ground references the events of the "Nightmare" arc in the comics.
When Sonic's mentioning the whole bridge thing, it's a reference to the Little Planet's appearance in Sonic CD's DA Garden. When listening to a Bad Future song, a bridge appears connecting Stardust Speedway to what appears to be Metallic Madness that does not appear when listening to a Present or Good Future song. Because its been set up that Sonic and Metal Sonic fought in the Bad Future of Stardust Speedway, I decided to reference this as the way he reached Metallic Madness afterwards, since he wouldn't be able to go back once he returned to the Present.
The one piloting the Final Fever robot is a fake Eggman that is only capable of laughing. The idea comes from the Archie "Sonic X" comics, specifically the "No Thanks for the Memories" story, where Eggman trapped Sonic and his friends in a virtual simulation made to look like Sonic 1. The Eggman that they encountered at the end of every zone only laughed while doing what the game's bosses did (according to Eggman, the simulated Eggman was based off of Gerald Robotnik rather than Eggman himself).
"Back to the Future" reference, anyone?
The Rolling Combo makes a second appearance.
The mysterious building that Twilight sees is the same building that appears in Stardust Speedway's Good Future during act two, replacing the Eggman statue in the center of that act.
Inside the mystery building, which I made a mansion here, the references are:
*The Gothic-style building is the building in the center of act two of Stardust Speedway in the Past.
*The forested area with the conveyor belts is the scrapped Wood Zone from Sonic 2 (back when Sonic 2 had the time travel concept, Wood Zone may have been the Past version of the Metropolis Zone, or so I've heard).
*The cliff overlooking the sea at sunset is inspired by the ending scene of The Subspace Emissary in "Super Smash Bros. Brawl" (though it may not necessarily be the same scene).
*The large organ is the same one that appears in the background of the Brass Eggman battle in the iOS Sonic 2 Hidden Palace Zone.
The owl mask on the tapestry is a reference to the guardian of the Time Stones in the two-part SatAM episode "Blast to the Past". The mask itself is seen with the Time Stones when they're mentioned in the Archie comics, and the guardian is apparently named Nicholas O'Tyme in that continuity (at least before "Worlds Collide" anyway).
Knights of Kronos was originally the name of an Achievement/Trophy in Sonic '06, but Archie took the name and expanded on it to make a group that, according to their explanation of the Time Stones, guards the Time Stones. Prior to "Worlds Collide", Silver was in training to become one of the Knights of Kronos.
The hooded figures at the end there are meant to suggest the possibility that the Knights of Kronos do exist. You can interpret it however you wish.
I think that's about it. I hope to see you all with the next chapter soon!
Back on the Right Track - Wacky Workbench Good Future (JP) (Sonic CD)
Another Complication - Secret Maneuverings/Leap in the Dark (Final Fantasy X)
Paradise... in Danger? - Metallic Madness Good Future (US) (Sonic CD)
A Split in Time... - Boss Theme (US) (Sonic CD)
In the Time Warp - Metallic Madness Past (Sonic CD)
Final Fever, Part One - Final Fever (JP) (Sonic CD)
Final Fever, Part Two - Digital Dimension/Babylon Guardian (Sonic Riders)
A Different Kind of Future - Stardust Speedway Good Future (JP) (Sonic CD)
Mysterious Mansion - Hyrule Castle (The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker)
Tales of the Little Planet - Stardust Speedway Good Future (US) (Sonic CD)
Knights of Kronos...? - Back to the Present (Mario & Luigi: Partners in Time)