“This belt belongs to me alone! You got that?”
“Knuckles! Knuckles! Yeaaah!”
Facing the audience, the champion, Knuckles the Echidna, raised the championship belt and roared. The red echidna’s performance set the arena on fire among the massive crowd.
“Ladies and gentlemen! The long-awaited title match is finally underway, chao!”
The robotic referee, “Omochao,” flew around the ring, further energizing the audience.
“Unbeaten defending champion Knuckles, will today be the day the champion’s seat changes hands? Keep an eye on the challenger’s entrance, chao! The supersonic clown, Sonic the Hedgehog!”
“Hey! You’re looking good, Knucklehead!”
Spotlighted, the blue hedgehog challenger made a swashbuckling entrance by landing on the corner post. Dressed in a colorful clown outfit, Sonic amazed the crowd with his impressive acrobatics and then presented himself to Knuckles and the audience with grand poses and a confident smile, further exciting the crowd.
Calling him a show-off, Knuckles pounded both fists and glared at the challenger.
“Have we met somewhere before? It doesn’t matter, but don’t think you’ll beat me easily.”
Sonic and Tails had traced the source of the energy to this venue, where they found Knuckles, the “Fighting King.” He seemed to possess a Chaos Emerald that had mutated into a championship belt. However, even with this power, there was no sign that Knuckles was regaining his memories upon seeing Sonic and the others.
“Why is that? We’re getting reactions from the Chaos Emerald as well.”
“He’s always been a bit gullible, and maybe the effects of the anomaly are stronger on him… Well, just watch! If I give that hard head a little punch, he’ll remember.”
And so, Sonic challenged Knuckles as the “challenger” in hopes of awakening his memories.
The crowd erupted in cheers as they chanted, “Knuckles! Knuckles!” Sonic, approaching Knuckles with a taunting yet light hearted demeanor, started a playful juggling act, leaving the audience in awe.
Knuckles, taken aback by Sonic’s high-level performance, watched in amazement as Sonic manipulated the countless balls. This captivating act concluded with Flicky, a small blue bird, perched on Knuckles’ nose, surprising everyone present.
After this cheeky introduction, Sonic winked at Knuckles with a mischievous grin. Laughter and applause filled the arena as the audience appreciated Sonic’s playful antics.
Knuckles, clearly irritated, clenched his fists as the audience’s reaction swayed in Sonic’s favor. From the ring post, Sonic spoke to the angered Knuckles.
“Did you like the little greeting from the newcomer?”
Knuckles, shaking with anger, couldn’t hide his frustration. The audience was no longer exclusively cheering for the champion but shared their support with Sonic.
Knuckles vented his anger as Sonic smiled and addressed him.
“I don’t mind the hostile atmosphere, but I don’t like being overshadowed by the audience.”
Audience reactions shifted from entirely favoring Knuckles to an even split. Knuckles smacked his cheeks with both hands, igniting his fighting spirit.
“It seems we’re getting along after all. I was starting to think you weren’t my type!”
The audience continued to cheer for both Sonic and Knuckles, setting the stage for their match to begin.
The match commenced as the gong sounded throughout the arena.
In the center of the ring, Sonic and Knuckles locked eyes. Knuckles, who was standing his ground, tried to land a precise and fiery straight punch as Sonic agilely moved around. However, Sonic narrowly avoided the punch, skillfully evading Knuckles’ impeccable form.
Sonic, aiming to disrupt Knuckles’ solid stance, gradually increased his speed and initiated a move.
With a trail of blue afterimages, Sonic created a fierce whirlwind around Knuckles, sending him soaring into the air. Sonic followed with a spin attack, aiming to strike while Knuckles was off balance.
The arena filled with the intense sound of the attack, and everyone hoped for a clean hit. But…
Knuckles, using both fists to guard against Sonic’s body check, revealed a grin and promptly slammed Sonic into the ground.
An explosion and shockwaves erupted upon impact. Sonic was sent flying into the air, but he quickly regained his footing, seemingly unaffected by the impact.
Chasing each other through the air, Sonic’s evasive moves and Knuckles’ relentless pursuit turned their fight into a high-speed aerial battle.
“Wow, what a battle, chao!”
Amid the high-speed action, the announcer, Omochao, struggled to keep up with the battle and shared the amazement of the audience. The entire arena was entranced by the intense showdown, and the cheering from the audience was deafening.
“Darn, he’s as tough as ever… But this is the way it should be!”
Sonic, typically laid-back, couldn’t help but feel exhilarated by this intense fight. However, he couldn’t help but laugh at his own excitement.
“You’re an annoying guy, but you’re doing great! I’ve been waiting for someone like you!”
Knuckles, too, found himself swept up by the intense battle. He couldn’t remember ever facing such a formidable combination of speed and power.
“Still not enough… I need to find the perfect punch to take him down.”
As the excitement peaked, Sonic and Knuckles each prepared for their final attacks.
“It’s time for the finale!”
Sonic unleashed a whirlwind kick at supersonic speed, while Knuckles countered with a powerful punch resembling a volcanic eruption. Their best blows collided in simultaneous hits.
Both fighters fell to the ground at the same time, and the audience erupted in cheers.
“Both down! The count begins, Chao!”
In the noisy audience, Tails also clenched his fists involuntarily and waited in a prayerful posture for the two to make a comeback.
“Oh dear! I got up almost at the same ti—what?!”
They woke up at the same time. But it was Knuckles who opened his mouth to talk first.
Unaware that he had sent Omochao flying in the process, Knuckles rushed to Sonic and spoke up, holding his kicked head.
“What the heck did you do, Sonic?! And why are you dressed like that?!”
“…Well? It’s just like I told you, isn’t it, Tails?”
Knuckles, who had been looking at Sonic who had a triumphant look as he stroked his punched cheek, suddenly remembered something and let out a yell.
“Oh yeah, hear me out! I was tearing down Eggman’s factory and I found something strange in the basement!”
Knuckles points and shouts under the ring as if time has begun to move again.
“This thing was in the way… take that!”
A flash of spunk with a swing of the arm!
A fist swung down at his feet and with a jolt, the entire ring blew off the floor. After the rolling debris and smoke subsided, they looked below…
It was a big gaping hole that was still crashing in a chain of collapses from the inside toward the huge underground space.
The two stared blankly at the hole amidst the discomposed auditorium. Then, breaking the silence, Tails’s energy detector makes a shrill sound.
At the same time, a heavy earth tremor from the depths erupted…! Collapses also began to occur around the hole, and the hall was in an uproar.
“It looks like the energy flow is heading deeper into this hole! We have to hurry!”
“Yeah! …But give me a second.”
Knuckles snatched the microphone from the staggering Omochao and addressed the confused crowd.
“Hey, you guys! Sorry, but I’ve got some business to attend to and it’s getting a little crazy! I know you have a lot to say, but just leave this to me and evacuate!”
As he roared, he pushes the microphone onto Omochao and forcefully entrusts him to handle evacuation.
“I-I don’t know what’s going on, but everyone better run away!”
“”Knuckles says this is crazy! Let’s run”” “”Woooo!”” “”Knuckles! Knuckles! …””
“Wow… they all left.”
Smiling at Tails, who was stunned beyond admiration, Knuckles turned to the dark, deep hole he was headed for and looked down at it silently.
“…That was some forfeited match.”
Sonic stands behind Knuckles before he knows it and smiles, feigning regret.
“Heh! I won by all accounts, but I wouldn’t mind doing it again.”
“That’s my line!”
Sonic jumped into the hole first, followed by Tails. Knuckles, who had followed them and dived into the hole, smiled wryly and grumbled.
“Sheesh… Guess we’re on the same page.”
”Cognitive Friction Energy”
The three who emerged from the hole found themselves in an unimaginable, abnormal landscape. A large cylindrical underground cavity, with a diameter and depth of about 100 meters…
At the very bottom of it, pointing straight up, was a huge white parabolic antenna, precisely the diameter of this cavity, and at its center was a rocket-like giant cone-shaped glass tower that shone with dazzling light.
“What is this…!?”
Sonic held onto Tails, who was flying, and Knuckles descended carefully using his gliding ability, all the while observing this bizarre sight.
As they descended, the unknown energy that had gathered from various alternate worlds was growing stronger and stronger. By the time Sonic and his companions reached the middle of the vertical tunnel, this energy had turned into a visible flow of countless purple lights.
Tails couldn’t quite grasp what this energy was, but when he saw the visions of various alternate worlds rising and falling while emitting intense sparks within that flow, he had a sudden realization.
“I see! It makes sense!”
In shock, Tails almost dropped Sonic, who was holding onto him. The truth he revealed was shocking.
Due to the Phantom Ruby weapon, Sonic and his friends had unintentionally overwritten their own cognitions with images from various people and alternate worlds, essentially becoming the “stars” of those worlds. The cognitive dissonance between the reality that the star originally held and the alternate world’s reality it had taken on created a significant burden on the star, generating vast amounts of energy.
“So, you can call this ‘Cognitive Friction Energy’… Eggman’s goal was to gather this energy from around the world!”
Just as Tails finished explaining, the three of them reached the bottom of the cavity and landed on the large parabolic antenna’s dish. They were all silent as they looked up.
The “Cognitive Friction Energy” from around the world was being collected by this antenna, gently reflected and converged, and it was visibly descending intermittently. The energy was then stored at the base of the tower, which had a bulging section.
“It’s annoying how he makes a big fuss about doing such cheap things.”
“Yeah. He’s like a nuisance walking around in a suit.”
Sonic and Knuckles couldn’t help but express their exasperation and irritation at Eggman’s antics.
“Look at the base of the tower! Energy is gathering there, to the point where it distorts the surrounding space… This energy is powerful enough to destroy the planet four times over!”
Tails conveyed with a serious expression.
“What should we do?”
“Well, that energy hasn’t been stimulated yet, so if we can free it from its fixed field, the planet will self-repair and the phenomenon will flow back…”
“…Tell me so I can understand, Tails!”
“Anyway, if we smash it, we can do something about it, can’t we?”
“W-Well, as a matter of fact, Knuckles is right… Let’s destroy that thing, release the energy, and put the world back together!”
“Alright, I’m on it!”
Knuckles, with his sleeves rolled up, heads for the tower in high spirits. Sonic looked away with a light grin, but…
“Well, I guess he’s gotta be this way.”
As he said that, he smiled and nodded as he watched his back and followed with a chipper stride.
…Soon, the three of them arrived at the base of the tower, where countless visions from alternate worlds were flashing and emitting bright lights around them. The magnitude of this sight made them all gasp again.
The light and alternate world images leaking from the tank-like structure seemed almost like a scream. With Knuckles in the center, the three of them took their positions and steeled themselves.
“It’s made of very sturdy crystal, but I think Knuckles’ power can break it.”
“I love the simplicity of brute strength. No need for overthinking.”
“That ‘brute’ of yours better be ready to show some gratitude today. Let’s go!”
Knuckles raised his clenched fist high, ready to bring it down with force, when suddenly:
The tank suddenly glowed much brighter, emitting a blinding white flash of light.
The next moment, a column of purple light, tens of meters in diameter, pierced through the tank, extending from the base of the tower to high in the sky.
“What… is this…!?”
In a matter of a few seconds, during that brief interval, followed by silence, the tower seemed to have calmed down, and the surrounding area was quiet. Then, a familiar, loud voice echoed from the sky.
“Ho ho ho! You’ve come all the way here, you annoying hedgehog! I’ve been watching, and you’re a tad bit too late.”
Sonic and his friends looked up at the sky.
“Indeed, this situation is all thanks to my genius plan. It’s called ‘Give and Take.’ I delivered enjoyable alternate worlds to everyone, and in return, I’ve harnessed this immense energy to complete my ultimate weapon.”
“Ultimate weapon?! Using that much energy for something…!?”
Involuntarily, Tails muttered, and Eggman seemed to revel in the satisfaction of his reaction, speaking with more enthusiasm.
“If any of you can stop me, then go ahead and try. I’ll turn all of you into dust and use you as test subjects for my ultimate weapon!”
As the ground trembled, countless branches and roots of strange plants sprouted at an incredible speed from beneath their feet. Unbeknownst to Sonic and his friends, the giant flower-adorned parabolic antenna had turned into a huge flower, and they were pushed back to the surface of the earth.
“!? What…! Is he creating localized alternate worlds?”
“This is a mess!”
Returning to the surface, they found a scene where the original energy facility had been transformed into a chemical plant used to repurpose the energy, with a nightmarish hybrid of plants. And further behind them, as they turned to look, a towering purple-gold giant had silently risen.
“Is this… Eggman’s final weapon!?”
The terrifying battle was about to begin.
Source: Sonic Channel