Knuckles couldn’t help but repeatedly look back towards the city, thinking he would be able to spot a black or blue blur among the onslaught of chaos in Mobotropolis.
Tails veered the Tornado hard to the left, Knuckles almost fell out of his seat.
“Tails! What’s going on?!” Tails grunted as he evaded something Knuckles could not see, he struggled to get up and look over Tails’ shoulder and see what the problem was. Swatbots. Flying Swatbots. Knuckles couldn’t believe that they found them, or maybe they were already on their way to the shrine,
“Tails! Open the cockpit! I’ll get them off our trail!”
Tails looked back worriedly, then hesitantly did as he said,
“Don’t fall off, okay! Just try to get them away from the wings!” Knuckles nodded and cautiously lifted himself from the seat onto the wing. The wind itself almost blew him right off the plane, but he shifted his weight forward to help balance him out. Angel Island was still miles away, and at the speed they were going they would arrive in 30 minutes. ‘Plenty of time to bust some bots’ Knuckles grinned. He had been out of the field since Eggman disappeared, he was strangely grateful for the opportunity for a good spar. A Swatbot approached and swung at Knuckles, he dodged it by ducking and grabbed the back of the bot’s flight pack. The overheated pack burned through Knuckles’ glove, he tossed the bot overhead and ripped the pack right off. He gripped his hand in agony as he was sure his hand was now badly burned. He turned around to look at Tails briefly, seeing he was quite stressed on keeping the Tornado in the air.
“Knuckles, look out!” The fox warned. Knuckles turned around just in time and ducked again to avoid a Swatbot’s bullet barrage.
“Go down, Tails! Take her down!” Knuckles ordered. Tails didn’t hesitate and sent the Tornado for a nosedive. Knuckles still held his ground, even when the Swatbot following them was aiming its gun straight at his face. Knuckles grinned and jumped from the plane, straight towards the bot.
“Knuckles! NO!” Tails watched Knuckles collide with the bot and punch straight through its armor, tearing off its guns and flight pack. Tails pulled against the lever to bring the Tornado back up to try to catch Knuckles, the echidna was using his dreadlocks to slow down his descent. Knuckles then glided to where Tails was making his turn and landed back on the wing.
“Pretty cool, huh Tails?” Knuckles boasted while Tails looked completely flustered,
“You idiot! I almost didn’t catch you!” Knuckles sweated in embarrassment at the retort and apologized,
“Sorry, Tails.” Knuckles then turned back around to face forward in the plane and kept a sharp eye for more bots.
Sonic was being pinned down under a Metal Sonic, while Shadow bombarded the fleet with Chaos Spears. Sonic spin dashed through Metal’s hand and rushed to aid civilians.
“Everyone! This way!” The terrified masses recognized the hedgehog and rushed in a desperate frenzy his way.
“Save us, Sonic!” “Robotnik is going to ruin everything!” “I can’t find my husband!” “Please help us, Sonic!” “Help us!” “Sonic!” Sonic was overwhelmed by the combined cries of the residents and pleaded for them to calm down.
“Listen up! I’ve got a plan to help us through this! You all need to stay calm and help each other through this mess! Aid people who are lost or trapped and get to safety at the North Bridge!” Sonic rushed past the masses and began resuming his fight with the Swatbots and Badniks ruining the streets with their destruction. Shadow was blasted through a building by a Titan Metal Sonic, an upgraded version of the classic Metal Sonic, except much, much bigger.
“Shadow! Are you okay?!”
Shadow picked himself out of the rubble and scowled at the hedgehog,
“I’m fine! I’m the Ultimate Life Form! I won’t be beaten by the likes of him!” Shadow then spin dashed through Badniks that were beginning to surround him. Obviously tired and sore, Shadow wasn’t about to give up now.
“That’s the spirit, Shadow! I’m right behind you!” The two hedgehog’s then ran full speed towards the Titan, who turned and revealed itself to be charging an energy beam.
“Tails! Look out! Steer left! Left!” Knuckles frantically ordered Tails in an attempt to avoid a new ambush of Swatbots. The two didn’t know how much longer it would take to reach the island, as they had to make detours to avoid the enemy’s barrage.
“C’mon, Tails! We’re getting close! I know we ar-ARRRGH!” Knuckles screamed out as a Swatbot had shot him, grazing his arm. He fell backwards and nearly fell off the plane, he gripped the wing as the rest of him was left to dangle off the plane.
“Knuckles! Are you okay?!” Tails couldn’t believe it. Knuckles was shot, he was about to fall off, and Tails couldn’t help him.
“Just fly, Tails! Keep flying!” Knuckles screamed at Tails to keep his focus on the plane, he didn’t want Tails to get distracted and cause an even bigger accident.
“Knuckles, you’re hurt! Try to get back in the cockpit or you’ll fall into the sea!”
Knuckles did as Tails said and tried to maneuver with one arm to the side of the Tornado he was just about to reach the pit when a Swatbot rammed into his back, throwing him off the plane and descending towards the ocean. He was falling fast, growing rapidly close to terminal velocity. Knuckles watched as the plane was then swarmed with Eggman’s bots and heard Tail’s frantic screams of terror and concern for his friend.
“Knuckles! Knuckles! KNUCKLES!”
Knuckles couldn’t help him. He fell and felt a rush of regret and guilt. He failed and was now watching his friend being overwhelmed by the enemy. He felt lost, broken and defeated. He felt like a fool, he felt like…he was being caught. Correction: He felt like he was being caught by a giant Albatross.
Storm had caught Knuckles on his descent and was now tending to his arms which were quite sore from catching the echidna going as fast as he was.
“Ow, you hurt my arms, you big dummy! What are you doing falling off planes like that? You’re almost as dumb as that Sonic guy!” Knuckles chuckled at the albatross’s words, he then looked to his side from Strom’s air board and saw Jet and Wave zooming past and heading towards the Tornado.
“Wave, can you deactivate those robots?”
“Can I? Just watch me!”
Wave whirled around the Swatbots, assaulting them with her mechanical prowess and skill. Before anyone knew it the Swatbots were twitching out of control.
“They’re all yours, boys!”
Jet, Storm and Knuckles sped past her and pulled back a clutched fist, charging up their assault.
“TAKE THAT!” All at once the boys knocked the Swatbots straight into the ocean by the force of their powerful punches.
“Not bad, guys! Now time to get these shmucks to that island!” Knuckles was surprised at Jet’s words, “How did you know our plan, Hawk?” Jet tossed Knuckles a communicator, Storm then turned towards Knuckles to explain.
“That cute pink girl called us and told us you needed help!” Wave butted in, “We usually don’t help anyone without a paycheck, but Sonic’s an old friend so we made an exception!” Jet then finished it off,
“Besides, if Eggman beats Sonic before we get to the Emerald I won’t have any decent competition anymore!” Knuckles and Wave rolled their eyes. Wave ascended towards the plane to check on Tails,
“How you doing, shortie?”
Tails was understandably spooked and turned towards Wave hesitantly.
“I-I thought I was a goner. T-Thank you, Wave.” Wave was put off by the fox’s gratefulness and shrugged it off with a smug retort.
“Yeah, yeah! Don’t get your snot and tears all over me, will ya?” Tails smiled at her reaction and went back to piloting the plane.
Knuckles was relieved to have some back up aiding them. Maybe now it won’t be so hard getting to…a screeching whine emanated from the city. Everyone looked back and watched in horror as Mobotropolis became bathed in an enormous light.
The Rogues exclaimed in a combined reaction, “Mobotropolis…IT’S GONE!” Wave cried, “That pretty bright light made it disappear!” “Hey! You don’t think-That hedgehog!”
Knuckles fell on his knees, eyes flooding with tears.