The ninth chapter of Book Three: The Invasion, and the chapter building up momentum for the end of a favorite.

Chapter Nine: Temple of Fear, Tower of Power

As Will watched, each of his squad mates set up their own unique resting places for their stay in the Gaia Temple. Stave unfurled a sleeping bag, with a selection of magic staffs besides him. Daniel threw down a pair of blankets on a cold stone plinth, with a large set of golden-hilted throwing knives ready at his fingertips. Belle inflated a blow-up mattress, her cosmetics and polish not too far from her arms length. Kyle set up a massive array of sensory equipment and archeological equipment, making Will doubt that he was going to sleep at all in this entire posting. Will turned to his own modest set of sleeping bag, swords, picture of Maddy and his family and such. He felt a presence over his shoulder, a form of sixth sense that told him someone was watching him. He stood to see Daniel studying him intently.

“Um, can I help you?” Will asked, slightly disgusted. The platinum-blonde hedgehog swung lightly to the ground from his plinth, his medium-length quills dancing in the pallid light.

“Oh, nothing. I don’t swing that way, if that’s what you think. My sister finds you attractive, and I was wondering why,” he responded, keeping a lighthearted face in this rather dismal location. Will raised his eyebrow, unsure who Daniel’s sister was. The hedgehog smiled, feeling the confused nature in the atmosphere.

“You remember my sister, don’t you? Titania?” As soon as the name left his lips, Will instantly realized whom he was talking about: the blond-haired hedgehog from high school whom had what could only be called an obsession with him. He grunted, and Daniel laughed, noticing the change in mood.

“Tell you what, the rest of the combatants are sparring, and I wondered if you felt like showing us how a Guardian fights. What do you say, dude?”

“Count me in, although don’t be surprised if Kyle shows us all a few tricks he knows. He’s not exactly the passive kind.” Daniel snorted, slapping Will lightly across the back.

“Come on, let’s see some of these combat tricks.”

Tails closed his eyes, feeling the presence of a few hundred different forms of power-creating item, from Chaos Emeralds and Fake Chaos Emeralds to a single World Ring to a variety of elemental crystals and otherworldly items stored in the crystal storage in the Monolith. He could also feel his wife beside him, holding his arm in an attempt to calm her frayed nerves. He opened his eyes again, seeing Cream and marveling at her newly discovered combat suit. As she had grown older, she had grown out of wearing dresses in high-intensity situations, and was wearing a gray tube top and ice-blue jeans. These, Tails noted, granted her more than just added flexibility, but also emphasized her physical fitness and attractiveness. He kissed her on the cheek, which made her jump, but she quickly turned to face him.

“You know that when they come, they’re going to come hard, right?” Tails asked, having done so many times before. Cream laughed, with her chao Cheese sitting on her shoulder.

“Yeah, I do. Just as well as I knew it before you said it ten minutes ago. This is a major tactical thing for them, so they aren’t going to sit down and roll over. We need to stand strong, like we have in the past. Together.” Tails smiled, but didn’t settle completely. One of the security alerts chimed, and the camera footage on the single monitor he could see showed him all he needed to know: his own counterpart had led an army into the tower, which was fine by him. Now to let the tower security to do its work.

Will stood in a basic combat stance, watching as Daniel flicked a trio of knives at him with a tiny movement. Rapidly, he knocked them out of the air with his extended knuckle blades. Daniel tried again, this time hurling the knives with Chaos-laced edges. Will ignited his arms and deflected the bullets with them, before racing towards him with burning fists. Daniel tossed his final knife into the air, not aiming it at all. Will raced towards him, but Daniel rammed his hand into the hilt of the falling knife, launching it as a blur of steel and gold directly at Will, striking him in the leg. Will cringed, but didn’t complain as his leg started to bleed. Silently, Stave walked up and wrapped Will’s leg in bandages that glittered from within with translucent coppery magic. Soon after the injured echidna dragged himself off the area the four of them were using for training, the two hedgehogs faced each other. Stave held a staff, while Daniel revealed two pouches on his belt and in his shirt, each rippling to the brim with throwing knives and kunai. Silently, they started pacing, moving around each other. Daniel tested the water by throwing a kunai at his gray opponent, but Stave simply stepped to the side to make it miss, before swinging his staff in a vertical sweep, sending a blistering wave of coppery magic towards Daniel, who dived to the side, avoiding it. The two then charged, Stave changing his grip on the staff, Daniel drawing a large sailors knife, specially weighted to be thrown, and closing on each other in a bang. However, as they fought, Belle raced in, closely followed by Kyle.

“They’re almost here. Stop fighting amongst yourselves, because soon there’ll be a proper enemy to fight!” Kyle roared. Will and Daniel both found themselves smirking, as Stave dusted himself off from the small splinters that had broken off his staff in the duel. Quickly, the four of them set up, with Will moving furniture and discarded stonework to make a makeshift palisade in order to slow them down in their entry. Daniel looked around edgily, pulling up the hood of his hooded t-shirt up to a point where it hid his eyes in shadow, giving him a darker appearance. Kyle bent down, sliding his hand into what looked like a jar, before raising it and powering it up, revealing a rather effective energy cannon. Belle smiled at that, revealing her own repulsor cannon built into her cybernetic arm. Stave just grimaced, and Will couldn’t help but notice.

“What’s up, Stave? You used to love fights, although not all of the ones you were in.” Stave looked at him, darkly.

“After you left, I felt my only chance to beat Leon go. I left by foot not too long after, until I found my way to a cleric, almost liker magic. He taught me how to heal with magic, and redirect a variety of powers, as well as channel powers from my allies through myself into opposition, but the first thing I ended up doing was fighting for my life against people who accused us of treachery and misuse of powers. I swore then that I would complete my training, and become a master cleric, a Grand Cleria as they call it, and here I am.” Stave’s face was pale with the memory. Will motioned for him to calm, before going pale himself. Daniel, still hooded, was standing atop the palisade and was taunting the Moebians before him.

“Yo, is that mudbutt or did you follow through?”

“Heh, my mother can throw rocks harder than that!”

“Wow, you guys really need anger management classes, coz you’re losing it!” Will clambered atop the palisade in a hurry, to see a large mob of Moebians, all yelling angrily. He looked at Daniel, whom was grinning maniacally.

“This is fun! I love it!” Will raised an eyebrow, but turned when the Moebians went silent, all turning to listen to the golden armored echidna standing up the back. Will felt his spine go cold. That echidna was the one from his dream!

“Attack, but do not kill them. I shall do that, personally,” it ordered. The Moebians grinned, and turned to attack.

“Ready, guys?” Daniel asked, turning to see the guys behind him. Stave nodded silently, hands wrapped around his staff baseball bat style. Kyle and Belle both had blasters out and ready, preparing for a leap into the air. Daniel rotated to look at Will, who was cracking his knuckles in anticipation.

“ATTACK!” the two standing defenders yelled, with Daniel hurling two knives as golden blurs into the mob as Will leapt defiantly in, fists blazing. Kyle and Belle both popped up, unleashing torrents of energy blasts into the mob, and all through that was a massive platinum blond blur hurling throwing streams of knives and kunai from his position atop the palisade. Daniel laughed as each Moebian his knives struck was either pinned to the ground or stabbed, his normal intelligence gone into a state of bloodlust. Will spun, trying to use his heightened speed to charge through the gang, but the cuts on his leg were slowing him down. Instead, he coated every inch of his body in flames, before leaping into the air, seeming to hover. The Moebians he had been fighting stopped to look at him, before realizing what was going on. He dropped, the flames launching off his body like a shockwave. The Moebians further back realized that although they were outnumbered, these young adults were more powerful than they appeared. They fled. The echidna in his golden armor just stood there, watching his people be decimated. Just as quickly as the battle started, it finished. Moebians lay on the ground, in most cases unconscious. Will was puffing, tired from fighting. Daniel smiled, collecting some of the discarded weapons, before he noticed the echidna.

“Will, there’s one left. Can I deal with him?”

“Go…ahead…” Will wheezed, catching his breath. Daniel’s smile grew as he grabbed a kunai.

“Piece of cake!” he shouted, hurling the knife. The blade flew straight and true until it came almost to reaching the echidna, where it suddenly flew to the left, embedding itself into a wall. Daniel shrugged, throwing a pair of golden-hilted knives at the armored foe, but those two reached the same distance and suddenly slammed into each other, slamming into the ground. Hard. Now showing signs of annoyance, Daniel threw six more knives and kunai at once, but these also stuck to each other, and the ones on the floor as well.

“Never use metal tools against a master of electricity and magnetism, fool!” the Moebian echidna roared. Daniel smiled again, and a cocky edge emerged into his voice.

“Well, good thing I brought these then!” Out of a previously unseen pouch in the small of his back, Daniel grabbed something and hurled it directly at the echidna, who moved his hand again as he had before. However, the brown blur struck the armor directly between the eyes, bouncing off. Will noticed Daniel grabbing another set of wooden knives, throwing them as blurs. The echidna just stood there, as his armor got more and more dented, ignoring every single strike. Daniel started to get more and more annoyed, before flicking his sailors knife out of its scabbard and raced towards the echidna.

“Eat steel, freak!” he screamed. His opponent laughed, dropping down into a familiar stance where his palm filled with lightning and he raced towards the enraged hedgehog. Like jousting knights they approached each other, before striking. They both stood, appearingly embedded on each other’s attack, before the armored Moebian stepped backwards, the knife sliding out from underneath his arm. Daniel staggered, then fell, the massive bleeding wound in his side suggesting he wouldn’t last without medical assistance. Belle screamed, pouring blast after blast into the echidna’s golden armor. It started to glow, before his hands formed a blast of purple energy.

“Rail Cannon!” he roared, unleashing a long purple blast into the path of her repulsor blasts, holding the light blue beam pulses back, before lancing straight through and striking the flying cyborg, throwing her painfully to the ground. Stave raced over, his hands rippling in magic as he prepared to stabilize Daniel, but the Moebian ran at Stave, sparks leaping off his armor as he used electricity to speed himself up, before bringing his arm down on the back of Stave’s head, knocking him out instantly. Will growled, his hands catching fire rapidly. The Moebian shimmered as he channeled electricity through his armor as his fists were coated with sparks.

“You first, then the fox,” he warned, before the two echidnas raced forward, both using sharp ripping knuckle blades to attempt to shred the other. Will rammed his fist into the echidna’s nose, as it kicked him in the gut. Neither gave any sign of backing down before a bright silver blast knocked the echidna off. He turned to see Kyle holding his energy blaster and the Chaos Emerald. The Moebian cursed in a guttural language, which Will guessed to be Bes’kad, the language of the ancient Echidnas.

“I am Striker, the hand of Scourge. Remember it, for it is the last name either of you will learn!” Kyle laughed, his hands not wavering from the emerald.

“Well, if that’s true…you’re going to have to catch me!” Instantly, Kyle was off running as hard as he could, putting distance between himself and the older echidna. Soon afterwards, Striker started bolting after him, increasing his speed as he had before. Will prepared to run, but he first closed Daniel’s eyes, giving him a dignified end. He turned and bolted after his best friend and the enemy trying to kill him, sadly leaving two unconscious people and a single body behind.

Dramatis Persona

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